- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Just weeks after DePaul University blocked two popular conservatives from speaking on campus, the private Chicago university is announcing a yearlong lecture series to discuss “race and free speech.”

The “President’s Series on Race and Free Speech” promises to offer perspectives “across the political spectrum” on topics tackling “race, free speech and hate speech, and the current political climate,” according to the university’s newsletter, first highlighted by Campus Reform.

DePaul President Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider said he hopes the program will help foster a healthy conversation among students and faculty.

DePaul University came under heavy criticism in recent weeks for blocking The Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro and Breitbart News senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking on campus due to security concerns. Mr. Shapiro had not yet visited the university before he was banned in July, but Mr. Yiannopoulos, an outspoken gay conservative, had given a highly protested speech on May 24 that was shut down when students stormed the stage and took over his microphone.

A female student hit Mr. Yiannopoulos in the face, and university security, paid for by the College Republicans, failed to restore order. Mr. Holtschneider later apologized to the College Republicans for the interruption, but he denounced Mr. Yiannopoulos as a “self-serving provocateur” who was “unworthy” of university discourse. Weeks later, Mr. Yiannopoulos was banned from giving a second speech on campus after officials determined his “inflammatory” rhetoric had created a “hostile environment” on campus. 

Mr. Holtschneider’s “race and free speech” series will be part of the university’s broad action plan to address the issues that came to light during the Yiannopoulos controversy, the newsletter said.

Some of the speakers will include Georgetown University professor and author Michael Eric Dyson, Stanford University professor Jeff Chang, and Castro Synergies CEO Martin R. Castro, who chairs the U.S. Commission of Civil Rights.

DePaul’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter and Mr. Shapiro himself blasted the initiative as hypocritical.

“Whatever reason DePaul has for its vendetta against free speech is unclear,” the group said in a statement to Campus Reform.

“The administration’s frequent boastings about how much the university values open discussion is entirely at odds with its suppression of conservative speakers and ideas,” the statement read. “We wholeheartedly reject the notion that the university is worried about large protests at our proposed Shapiro event and believe that the administration is using the guise of ensuring safety to cover up its ongoing crusade against DePaul conservatives.”

Mr. Shapiro said, “DePaul’s own commitment to free speech extends only to quashing it if their students can’t control their reactions to ideas with which they disagree.

“Furthermore, for DePaul to host a series on race, when they simply allow the Black Lives Matter movement to run roughshod over opposing viewpoints, demonstrates that they’re liars as well as ideological fascists: they’re pretending that one side of the debate represents the entirety of the debate,” he told Campus Reform.

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