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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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UF has an unfortunate history of hosting speakers that stir controversy. In 2019, the university shelled out $50,000 to host Donald Trump Jr. and his fiancee, Kimberly Guilfoyle. Last year, UF allocated $60,000 for Josh Richards, a TikToker notoriously known for exposing himself on Instagram Live.

If you haven't heard by now, UF’s Young Americans for Freedom spent allocated money to bring Ben Shapiro.

Young Americans for Freedom is a young conservative activism organization. There is a pattern of Young Americans for Freedom bringing in Shapiro, extending beyond UF. Just look at the list of schools where he's spoken with their support — UC Berkeley, UCLA, University of Wisconsin, University of Utah, DePaul University, University of Missouri, Pennsylvania State University and Boston University.

Not sure what to do? It’s simple: don’t support him and do not attend! 

Sure, some may argue they're just going for laughs. But even attending as a joke contributes to the broader problem, sending the wrong message. However, attendance of any motivation is harmful. His presence creates an unwelcoming and potentially dangerous environment for students of different backgrounds and identities. 

If you need reasons to not support him, keep reading. 

He has a clear history of being anti-LGBTQ+.

 In 2010, Shapiro stated, “Back in 1974, for example, the DSM removed “homosexuality” from its list of mental illnesses. There was no actual scientific reason to do so.”

In 2015 when gay marriage was legalized, he tweeted “Words don't mean anything. Laws don't mean anything. The law is, apparently, whatever Obama says it is.”

His statements are not just divisive, but outright appalling. 

Bringing him to campus does not foster a welcoming community in any shape or form; the only thing Shapiro’s attendance does is wear away at inclusivity at our university. 

It is crucial for UF to prioritize the safety and well-being of students from all backgrounds and identities. By inviting Shapiro, the university actively undermines efforts to create an inclusive community. What message does this send to LGBTQ+ students on our campus? Why elevate a platform to someone so blatantly homophobic?

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But it doesn't end there. Shapiro denies the existence of racism, dismissing concepts like social justice, white privilege, and safe spaces as attempts to dismantle American ideals. In a state like Florida, where issues of race and education are already contentious, we don't need a speaker who denies the reality of racism.

If you need more reasons not to attend, Shapiro is a climate change denier. He founded the media outlet Daily Wire. The media outlet paid Google to have advertisements showing “climate change is a hoax” and “why is climate change fake” come up when people searched about climate change. Climate change is science. 

I urge you to join UF College Democrats at an alternative event, sending the right message: Gators do not tolerate hate.

I believe that UF and its students are better than a man who defines being queer as a mental illness and throws fits over the Barbie movie. 

So, let's send a clear message: do not attend the Ben Shapiro event, even as a joke. Gators are better than that. 

Paulina Trujillo is a UF 4th year Political Science and Women’s Studies major.

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