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Protestors Press U To Stop Speech By Conservative Author

Judy Fahys
Protestors outside University of Utah administration offices say it flies in the face of providing a safe learning environment to allow a controversial conservative commentator to speak at the U later this month.

Students staged a sit-in Tuesday outside the University of Utah president’s office over an upcoming speech by the conservative commentator, Ben Shapiro, the former editor-at-large of Breitbart News.

A group called Young Americans for Freedomis sponsoring his talk on September 27.

But the chicano/chicana group MEChA wants the speech cancelled, and it organized an hours-long sit-in outside the university president’s office.

“We’re trying to pressure the administration as much as we can, so they cancel the event,” says protestor Juan Salazar, “so that they can show us that they genuinely care for the safety of students.”

U spokesman Chris Nelson says administrators are balancing freedom of expression and safety.

“The same free-speech rights that allow these passionate protestors to be here today,” he says, “are the same rights that allow student groups to bring somebody like Mr. Shapiro to campus.”

More than 700 people have RSVP’ed for the event on Facebook. 

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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