The University of Notre Dame refused to sponsor an event with Daily Wire Editor Emeritus Ben Shapiro, but supported events with pro-abortion and pro-prostitution advocates.
Right to Life Michiana, a pro-life activist group, celebrated its annual benefit in October; the university is typically the largest sponsor of the event. But according to Notre Dame’s Catholic conservative student newspaper, The Irish Rover, the school abruptly pulled its money, and prohibited student groups from donating or selling tickets because Shapiro was set to be the featured speaker. But the university hosted a pro-abortion event the same night, and allowed a student group to pay for an event with a “sex work” advocate.
“This year, a university administrator decided that Right to Life Michiana’s invited speaker transgressed the bounds of acceptable pro-life discourse,” Irish Rover editor emerita Mary Frances Myler reported.
“Notre Dame eschewed sponsorship, and, as the fiduciary for all university-affiliated groups, forbade those groups from donating to the benefit or purchasing tickets. The stated grounds? Ben Shapiro’s presence conflicts with the Catholic mission component of the university’s charitable giving policy,” Myler added.
According to the report, on-campus pro-life group Notre Dame Right to Life had already purchased tickets to the benefit, with the approval of the University, but were abruptly halted by the Student Activities Office without reason.
Notre Dame Right to Life President Merlot Fogarty and several members met with Chuck Lamphier, executive director of Notre Dame’s Office of Mission Engagement and Church Affairs, for answers. Lamphier reportedly told them that “this speaker is problematic,” citing a tweet Shapiro wrote in 2010. He said the event itself was problematic, and that “university dollars [were] not going to go to it.” He did, however, say the university would continue to support Right to Life Michiana in other ways that did not publicly connect them to Ben Shapiro, The Irish Rover reported.
But the same night as the benefit event took place, Notre Dame’s Gender Studies Program and Institute on Race and Resilience co-sponsored an event with abortion activists. One of the panelists at the event, Sharon Lau, is currently employed as regional advocacy director for South Bend-based abortion clinic Whole Women’s Health. According to her LinkedIn page, she has previously worked for Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation. Another panelist was Democratic Indiana State Rep. Maureen Bower, who called abortion a “basic human right” during the debate over Indiana’s state abortion ban in August.
Just days before the event, another student group was allowed to use its money on a speaking fee for an event hosted by the University’s LGBT Law Forum, entitled “Decriminalizing Sex Work.” The speaker at that event was Cruel Valentine, a Chicago-based burlesque performer, porn star, and sex worker. “Valentine lectured about the ‘whorearchy,’ protested the stigmatization of sex work, and called for the elimination of legal consequences for individuals who either solicit or provide sexual services in exchange for money,” The Irish Rover reported. Both events were protected by the University’s academic freedom policies.
“[U]niversity administrators weaponized policies to obstruct charitable giving to Right to Life Michiana because the guest speaker tweeted something unpalatable more than a dozen years ago,” Myler wrote. “And this apparently makes him worse than the women who perpetuate the lie that abortion is a right, worse than the woman who has dedicated her life to stripping away legal protections for vulnerable people coerced into an exploitative economy inseparable from sex trafficking, human trafficking, pornography, and abuse.”