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Security boosted ahead of Ben Shapiro talk at University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Ben Shapiro speaks at University of Tennessee. Source: Stutterstock.com

Amidst a free speech war on US college campuses, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT) welcomed controversial conservative speaker, Ben Shapiro on campus Wednesday.

Shapiro, the editor of a right-leaning publication and known for his right-wing opinions, was set to speak at a sold-out-event at UT on Wednesday night.

After nine arrests occurred at Shapiro’s recent appearance at University of California, Berkeley despite a strong police presence, the University of Tennessee took extra precautions ahead of the event.

According to Knoxville News Sentinel, the university took the following security measures:

  • No signs, posters, backpacks, other large bags, masks or weapons of any kind will be allowed in the building;
  • The “clear bag policy” used at UT sporting events will be in place. Attendees may bring in one clear plastic bag no larger than 12-by-6-by-12 inches; a one-gallon clear resealable plastic storage bag; or they may bring a small clutch purse not to exceed 4.5-by-6.5 inches;
  • Entry into the building will be restricted to the front entrance of Alumni Memorial Building on Middle Drive;
  • Those attending the event must have their ticket to enter the building. Opted-in student ticket holders, those who have opted for their student fees to go to student-organized programming such as  the Shapiro event, must also have their UT student ID;
  • Doors will close promptly at 7 pm;
  • Attendees cannot re-enter the building if they leave once the event begins;
  • Attendees will also be given wristbands before they enter the event’s room, to be used when leaving and re-entering when they use restrooms.

Shapiro was invited to the university’s branch of conservative student group Young Americans for Freedom, which recently hosted him at Berkeley and the University of Utah.

“He’s very confident in what he believes and I feel like that’s what’s so appealing to college students,” Grayson Price, communications director for the UTK chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, told Knoxville News Sentinel.

“During this discovery period in college where we’re really all learning about ourselves and what we want to do in life, I think it’s very appealing to see Shapiro going out there and really inspiring people to look more into conservatism and conservative viewpoints. If anything, it’s to get the debate started.”

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