Ben Shapiro — the conservative commentator and editor-in-chief of the Daily Wire — will no longer be coming to UCF on March 23 due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019.
“Out of an abundance of caution for everyone involved in our upcoming Ben Shapiro Lecture, we have decided to postpone the event,” the College Republicans at UCF wrote in a Friday statement. “If you have received a ticket for our event, please hold on to it. All tickets will remain valid …”
The College Republicans said in the statement it hopes to announce a new date for the event soon and the organization will work to ensure the event is a success.
The Ben Shapiro event at UCF is part of a nationwide series of campus lectures hosted by Young America’s Foundation. The event was put on hold after YAF announced it was postponing all campus lectures, according to a Friday statement.
“Following closures or event restrictions enacted by an increasing number of schools nationwide, Young America’s Foundation made the difficult decision to pause its nationwide campus lecture program, effective immediately,” YAF spokesman Spencer Brown wrote in a statement.
Andrew Porter, junior political science major and College Republicans member, said although he is disappointed that the event is going to be postponed, he thinks it’s appropriate.
“Having an event like this, which would be about 1,500 people in one room, doesn’t seem like it’s the right move given the political climate right now,” Porter said.
The news of Shapiro speaking at UCF first created tension within the UCF community when the College Republicans asked the UCF Student Government Senate to fund half of the event using students’ activity and services fee fund.
Porter had previously attended the UCF SG open forums and spoken out in favor of bringing Shapiro to UCF using student funds.
The College Republicans first announced the event on Jan. 29.
Students and community members organized a protest against the use of student funds for the conservative speaker on Feb. 6, the day of the bill’s second reading.
Individuals — both in favor and not in favor of the bill — voiced their opinions in multiple open forums hosted by the senate. The funding bill to pay half the cost of Shapiro’s fee plus the cost for six UCF Police Department officers — totaling $17,875 — was approved on Feb. 13.
On March 3, the College Republicans released event details and ticketing information. The allocated tickets for non-UCF students were claimed within 10 minutes, according to the organization’s Twitter.
College Republicans Vice Chairman Didi Malka said the College Republicans are working with the university and YAF to plan a new date.
College Democrats Director of Public Affairs Shahaan Khan said the postponement of the event was the responsible action to take.
“We’re glad they’ve taken the responsible steps and placed the general public and Mr. Shapiro’s health first,” Khan said.