Conservative speaker Ben Shapiro will visit the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus Monday as a part of a lecture series sponsored by the Young America’s Foundation, a conservative youth organization.
The event is co-sponsored by Young Americans for Freedom at UW-Madison (YAF), the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership, the Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy (CSLD) and GOP Badgers.
The event will start at 7 p.m. in Memorial Union’s Shannon Hall. Backpacks and signs are prohibited, according to an event page. Following the event, there will be a Q&A discussion with audience members.
Findings from a survey conducted by the UW System in November 2022 showed a majority of students believe instructors encourage diverse classroom viewpoints. However, both left and right-wing students reported they often self-censor personal views on controversial topics in class due to worries about classmates’ reactions.
UW-Madison YAF Chairman Harrison Wells hopes Shapiro’s visit will hopefully “encourage a rich exchange of ideas that broaden our campus’ understanding of free speech.”
“We’re excited to host a successful and safe event for attendees across the political spectrum. We look forward to working with the university to champion its stated value of protecting free speech,” Wells said.
Not all students are thrilled about Shapiro’s visit to campus. The Young Democratic Socialists of America at UW-Madison (YDSA) posted a call to action on Instagram for a counterprotest outside of Memorial Union during Shapiro’s event.
“We stand in solidarity with queer, indigenous, people of color, marginalized and oppressed people and victims of hate,” YDSA said in a statement Friday. “We don’t believe their rights are here for debate and we vow that fascism will never win the day.”
YDSA said speakers like Shapiro and Matt Walsh, who visited campus last fall, intend to provoke and “terrorize” marginalized people. In their statement, YDSA criticized YAF “inciters” who “took it upon themselves to put up posters advertising [Walsh’s] event in spaces of inclusion on campus.”
Similar posters were found posted on campus in the week leading up to Shapiro’s event. Neither YAF nor the Center for Liberal Democracy responded to repeated inquiries from The Daily Cardinal asking who was responsible for the posters, which depicted protestors holding Pride and Palestinian flags.
“Hamas is evil and its defenders are Jew-haters,” the poster said. It included logos for YAF, CSLD, the Thompson Center and GOP Badgers.
The Cardinal is unable to verify the poster’s source at this time.
Gabriella Hartlaub contributed reporting to this article.
Editor's Note: This story was updated at 10:26 a.m., Monday, November 6 to clarify that the event starts at 7 p.m., not 6 p.m.
Anna Kleiber is a state news reporter for The Daily Cardinal.