LOS ANGELES, Calif. (FOX 11 / CNS - A speech by conservative author and political commentator Ben Shapiro went on as planned today at Cal State Los Angeles, thanks to a last-minute change of heart by the university president who initially canceled the event, sparking a wave of campus protests.
But his appearance was met with a variety of other protesters who amassed outside the theater where Shapiro appeared, sometimes engaging in shouting matches with Shapiro supporters. And in the midst of Shapiro's speech, a fire alarm went off in the theater, but he never interrupted his talk.
Shapiro was scheduled to give a speech themed "When Diversity Becomes a Problem" at an event hosted by Young Americans for Freedom. According to the group, the event was approved by the CSULA student government, Associated Students Inc.
But on Wednesday, university President William A. Covino canceled the event, saying instead that he would like Shapiro to appear at an event that would include other speakers with differing viewpoints. Covino said he
preferred a more "inclusive" event."
According to a statement released by the university, emails and social media posts about the event "caused concern for the campus community," prompting Covino to cancel the event "given threats and expressions of fear."
Shapiro, after learning of the decision, defiantly announced that he would still come to the campus, and students began protesting on the campus this morning.
By early afternoon, Covino reversed course, and said he would allow Shapiro to speak. He said his decision to cancel the event was made "in the interest of safety and security," and he was "disappointed" that Shapiro
would not attend his proposed event with other speakers.
"He (Shapiro) has indicated that he will come to Cal State LA to speak today at the University-Student Union Theatre, where he was originally scheduled to deliver his talk," Covino said. "I strongly disagree with Mr. Shapiro's views. But if Mr. Shapiro does appear, the university will allow him to speak. We will make every effort to ensure a climate of safety and security."
Members of Young Americans for Freedom hailed the reversal, but said there's still no cause for celebration.
"Shapiro's ability to speak on campus never should have been in question," according to the group. "CSULA is a public university, the event was approved two separate times by the student government and Ben Shapiro is a
respected conservative thinker with a reputation for intelligent commentary.
"The fact that the president of the university ever made the decision to apply the ridiculous double-standard of allowing Shapiro to speak only if a leftist was around to counter his beliefs is a tragic indication of how dire
the state of censorship against conservatives has gotten on campuses around the country.
"... We continue to be disgusted by the actions of this school and schools across the country that engage in (this) type of behavior on a daily basis."