by Neetu Chandak
A Wisconsin college canceled security company Blackwater’s founder Erik Prince from speaking after students banged drums and stacked chairs on stage to prevent the speech from happening Wednesday.
Cecil Youngblood, interim dean of students, announced to the group that the event has been cancelled for safety reasons. pic.twitter.com/JbswaF98sE
— Angela Major (@angela_major_) March 28, 2019
Beloit College interim dean of students Cecil Youngblood said the college canceled Prince’s speech, which was already delayed by at least 40 minutes, according to Inside Higher Ed on Friday.
Protesters responded to cheers, according to video shared on Twitter by Gazettextra staff photographer Angela Major.
“I believe that if a critical mass of students object to a speaker’s presence or a speaker’s platform, they should have a say in whether or not that speaker is welcome in our home,” student Rose Johnson said, Gazettextra reported.
The college condemned the protesters and will investigate the situation, according to a statement.
“Due to disruptive protests and safety concerns, the event hosted by the Young Americans for Freedom featuring speaker Erik Prince had to be canceled to ensure the safety of all participants,” the college told The Daily Caller News Foundation over email. “As an institution of higher learning, open dialogue on all topics is one of our core principles. Wednesday’s events fell unacceptably short of this core principle, and we condemn the behavior of those who disrupted the event.”
Blackwater, now Academi, received backlash for its role in the U.S.’s involvement in the Middle East, Inside Higher Ed reported. Four Blackwater contractors were convicted for the 2007 incident in which 14 Iraqis were shot.
Prince was invited by Beloit’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). He is also Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s brother, according to Inside Higher Ed.
“It’s sad the president and the administration of this college lacked the moral courage to enforce free speech and to defend free speech,” Prince said, the Beloit Daily News reported. “Fortunately, President [Donald] Trump will defend free speech and I think the college will be hearing from the court soon on this because enough is enough.”
Trump signed an executive order to require colleges to protect free speech if the institutions want federal funding. The president first announced the idea at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) in early March and signed it March 21.
“People who are confident in their beliefs do not censor others,” Trump said.
YAF spokesman Spencer Brown said the group is keeping a close eye on the college to see how it handles the situation, Inside Higher Ed reported.
YAF did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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