- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Progressives are demanding that the University of Colorado-Boulder shut down a privately funded conservative center because it promotes a “White supremacy culture” by cultivating intellectuals connected to former President Donald Trump.

The activists have launched student protests and a petition accusing the state’s largest public school of being too accommodating of extremist scholars at the Bruce D. Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization — a development they fear signals a rightward drift on the left-leaning campus.

They have objected especially to the center’s choice of attorney John C. Eastman, a senior fellow at the conservative Claremont Institute, as its 2020-2021 visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy.

Mr. Eastman, who did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment, has represented Mr. Trump and appeared at the former president’s rally before the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

New Era Colorado, a liberal voter registration network that works with college students, describes Mr. Eastman in an online petition as “the principal architect of the failed plot to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential elections” in December 2020 while CU employed him.

“Unfortunately, right here on CU Boulder’s campus, the Bruce D. Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization promotes white supremacy culture,” states the petition, which does not report how many people have signed its demand to close the center.

“The Benson Center has debased the standards of this institution with the annual appointment of visiting scholars who frequently champion harmful language and actions — including attending the January 6 insurrection,” the petition adds.

Sara Loflin, executive director of the liberal ProgressNow Colorado, noted that Mr. Eastman is “under Congressional investigation for his participation in orchestrating the January 6th insurrection.”

“Adding insult to injury, CU Regent and Candidate for Governor, Heidi Ganahl, is an ardent supporter of Eastman and the Benson Center,” Ms. Loflin said in a statement. “Ganahl praised Eastman’s argument that Vice President [Kamala] Harris was unqualified to serve based on the circumstances of Harris’ birth.”

Since its founding in the early 2000s as a platform for conservative voices on campus, the Benson Center’s visiting scholars have also mocked the LGBT community, progressives say.

A CU Boulder spokesman said Wednesday in an email that the university has no intention of shuttering the conservative center.

“The Benson Center plays a valuable role in fostering a wider consideration of various perspectives, and CU Boulder expects that it will continue to do so,” the spokesman said.

Daniel Jacobson, a CU Boulder professor of philosophy and the Benson Center’s president, added that the center “sponsors events and programming that are diverse in every sense.”

“Attacks on the Center are illiberal and ignorant,” Mr. Jacobson said in an email. “They contradict CU’s commitment to political diversity and freedom of inquiry, as well as its mission to seek the truth through open and civil exchange.”

Added the professor: “We host scholars representing viewpoints across the political spectrum and have featured multiple speakers of color, and differing genders and identities.”

Last year, the university relieved Mr. Eastman of his position at the Benson Center on Jan. 21, a few weeks after the Capitol riot.

“University officials determined Eastman’s continued pursuit of these duties would likely be disruptive and damage the interests of the campus and the Benson Center,” CU Boulder said in a statement posted online last Jan. 22.

But progressives show no signs of letting up in their battle to remove conservative voices from campus.

Earlier this month, they claimed the university “rigged” the selection process for the CU system’s next president to favor interim President Todd Saliman as the only finalist to replace Mark Kennedy — even though CU has not yet made a final hiring decision.

Mr. Kennedy, a former Republican congressman from Minnesota, resigned as president on June 1 after the Board of Regents switched from a Republican to a Democratic majority for the first time in decades.

The United Mexican American Students y Movimiento Estudiantil Chincanx de Aztlán and CU Young Democratic Socialists of America launched student protests against Mr. Kennedy during his two-year tenure as president over his congressional voting record on LGBT and immigration issues.

On April 13, the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy & Research Organization (CLLARO) accused the university of appointing Saliman — suggesting progressives do not believe the former Democratic state legislator and politician will heed their demands to crack down on campus conservatives.

“This was a rigged appointment from the beginning. The public should be seriously concerned with a board that is willing to carry on with a process that was biased and unfair,” Mario Carrera, CLLARO’s president and CEO, told the news outlet Westword.

• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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