Ferris’ College Republicans invited political analyst and TV host Ben Shapiro to campus, marking the largest five-star event in recent history.
More than 500 people attended the event, and it wasn’t just Ferris students. Individuals from Big Rapids High School, Grand Valley State University, Detroit and even Indiana were present.
The University Center ballroom was completely full and many people were left standing Monday night, Feb. 6. There was also a heavy police presence with both local and state officers lining the room as well as more than eight police vehicles parked outside.
Andrew Kapanowski, secretary of Ferris’ College Republicans and business administration senior attended one of Shapiro’s events at another college and wanted to bring him to Ferris State.
After working with Student Government, the Young Americas Foundation and local businesses, Kapanowski found a way to afford Shapiro’s $15,000 booking fee.
Shapiro’s speech lasted for nearly 35 minutes, preceding a question and answer session that went on for nearly two hours.
“I have never heard of Ben Shapiro, so I was interested in coming to find out about his political leanings,” said Ferris political economic junior Justin Austin. “I was pleasantly surprised because many of his views that were talked about were liberal.”
Shapiro encouraged those that had opposing views to come up first to have a debate.
“[Universities] are in a lot of trouble because indoctrination has taken precedence over education,” Shapiro said.
According to Kapanowski, Shapiro is a conservative speaker, but enjoys having a constructive discussion with those that disagree.
Those in attendance were not afraid to openly oppose or support Shapiro during his speech. “It was good that people were willing to get up and discuss [topics], people weren’t really going crazy, they were willing to listen and it was a good thing to see,” Austin said. “I was impressed with the audience and speaker.”
There was a lone protester standing out front with a sign before the event began. Shapiro spoke to the protester and said, “I respect you for showing your views and respect you for being peaceful.”
“I think it was important for him to come to campus because I feel that the country is at a point right now where each side is trying to shut the other side out,” Kapanowki said. “And we do not want to hear what they have to say.”