ASWU votes against bringing Ben Shapiro to speak at Whitworth

by Emma Phillips | Editor-in-Chief

CORRECTION: MARCH 14 2019 10:31 A.M.: The seconded motion to approve Shapiro was made by Christopher Clay, Arend and Boppell zone representative, (per ASWU meeting minutes) not David Martin, Duvall senator as previously stated.

With the AWSU assembly vote tied nine to nine, President Tersa Almaw served as a tiebreaker, voting in opposition of inviting Shapiro, a popular conservative commentator who was recently turned down by Gonzaga University.

Over 100 people came to the ASWU meeting on Wednesday, March 13, to witness the vote and make their voices heard.  Members of the Whitworth chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) made their case for bringing Shapiro to campus and answered senators’ questions, after which the floor was opened for discussion.

Approximately a dozen students shared their opinions, including members of the Generation Action club and Pride Club, as well as former YAF members.  Residence hall senators expressed the difficulty they experienced in placing their votes, saying their constituents were split on the issue.

After nearly 90 minutes of back and forth between those present, Boppell senator Sarah Haman made a motion to vote on the issue. Christopher Clay, Arend and Boppell zone representative, seconded the motion.  That vote resulted in a tie, which Almaw proceeded to break by voting against Shapiro’s proposed lecture on campus. At this point, the meeting was adjourned.

Director of Student Activities Jason Chapman said he felt the tension present in the room, and understood the gravity of the situation.

“These issues are not simple and there was not a clear majority.  I think this is reflective of today’s political climate,” he said.  “At the end of the day, I think ASWU stuck to the platform they ran on last spring of transparency and unity.”

It is unclear at this point how YAF will proceed and whether they will seek permission to invite a different speaker.