UConn Applies New Rules to Speaker Appearances After Arrests

The UConn College Republicans hosted another conservative speaker Wednesday night, the first such speech since Lucian Wintrich’s "It’s OK to Be White" talk led to two arrests back in November, and the university had some new rules in place for the speech.

The group invited Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief of conservative news site The Daily Wire.

UConn upped security in an obvious way for both the College Republican-hosted event at the Rome Ballroom and at a College Democrat-hosted event the next street over.

The event was only open to members of the UConn community and required a previously picked-up bracelet and a valid UConn ID.

Before heading inside, students lined up outside as one by one security checked each ticket-holder before allowing them to pass.

“There was a lot of security. there was a very direct line of how to get in and what to do and very well put together,” said EO Smith High School Senior Peter Tomanelli.

UConn was hoping to avoid a repeat of a scuffle that took place when Wintrich visited.

It was all order and calm as hundreds listened to conservative writer Ben Shapiro’s speech titled “White Privilege, Microaggressions, and other Leftist Myths.”

Shapiro credited the university regarding the security, but expressed disappointment that only those in the UConn community could attend. He said his message for those who attended was – you’re not a victim.

“I think what's divisive and problematic in our politics right now is people blaming others for problems that they are experiencing that is largely the result of their own decisions,” Shapiro explained.

On the next street over at the same time, attorney Nathan Robinson spoke at a College Democrats event titled “Ben Shapiro is Not as Insightful as He Thinks.”

“I don't think people should ignore or silence him, but I do believe we can engage constructively with the things he says and I think it's fine to have an event at the same time for people who want a different approach for the same topics,” Robinson said.

Those who spoke to NBC Connecticut wished the two talks had not overlapped, saying the more opportunities for discussion, the better.

“If they had one following up so everyone here could have jolted over there and then discussed what happened who is right and wrong I think that would have been better,” said UConn Senior Daniel Sitkovtskiy.

UConn also created more separation between the audience and the speaker to avoid any issues. The scuffle at Wintrich’s event took place after a woman in the audience grabbed his speech notes of the lectern.

The university said before the events that they had the same expectations and rules for both.

"Our primary goal is to have a safe event where everyone’s speech and rights are protected and respected," Reitz said.

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