This Christian college that attributes its soaring enrollment to free speech has a checkered past
The president of a Christian faculty attributed his college’s hovering enrollment to its dedication to free speech, however the faculty initially blocked conservative commentator Ben Shapiro from talking on campus just some years in the past.
Grand Canyon College, based in 1949 in Phoenix, Arizona, has tripled its enrollment over the past decade, surpassing 25,000 in 2022. The college president instructed Fox Information the school has dedicated to educating — not indoctrinating — its rising pupil physique.
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“Not everyone that comes right here has the identical biblical perception that we educate right here, however they’re free to be right here, and so they’re free to share their worldview within the classroom and outdoors the classroom,” GCU President Brian Mueller stated. “We’re very severe about honoring free speech.”
However the faculty confronted backlash in 2019 after initially barring Shapiro from talking on campus to avoid divisiveness following student concerns, although the Each day Wire co-founder did ultimately communicate at GCU that yr.
The nationwide wing of the Younger America’s Basis introduced that Shapiro would communicate on GCU’s campus, regardless that the school hadn’t accepted the native chapter’s official request, according to a GCU press release.
GCU subsequently denied the request, saying in a press launch that the college aimed “to carry unity to a group that sits amidst a rustic that’s extraordinarily divided.” The faculty additionally stated the rejection was partly as a result of YAF’s untimely announcement breached its approval protocols.
“By caving to an unseen mob and ignoring the recognition of Shapiro amongst its pupil physique, Grand Canyon College simply performed itself and deserves no matter detrimental response this brings,” YAF spokesman Spencer Brown stated on the time. He additionally wrote that GCU directors talked about that there have been issues of offending its DACA students as a result of Shapiro’s strict views on immigration.
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The college itself in the end invited Shapiro to talk because it continued to battle with YAF, however the conservative commentator initially declined. However Shapiro ultimately agreed to talk on campus.
“I’ve labored with YAF and YAF college students for years,” Shapiro tweeted. “I cannot go across the hard-working, devoted YAF college students at GCU; I will go to GCU when YAF brings me to GCU.”
Finally, Shapiro did speak at the college later that spring.
After studying in regards to the incident, Fox Information reached out to GCU for extra readability. A GCU spokesperson instructed Fox Information the college has invited audio system of “from a wide range of political viewpoints,” together with many conservative audio system.
“Mr. Shapiro’s conservative perspective aligns with greater than 90% of our values as a college,” the spokesperson instructed Fox Information. “There have been some preliminary missteps involving our inside communication in addition to our approval course of, however we’re pleased these had been resolved and Mr. Shapiro was capable of go to and communicate to our college students. We proceed to have a constructive relationship with Mr. Shapiro in the present day.”
In the meantime, Mueller instructed Fox Information in a current interview that he is dedicated to selling the First Modification at his faculty. He stated the prospect has been engaging for folks as battles over free speech on college campuses have continued to escalate nationwide.
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Mother and father don’t need their children “to get indoctrinated into an ideology that perhaps will not be one which they had been taught at residence” as soon as they go to varsity, Mueller stated.
Whereas the coed physique is primarily comprised of conservative Christians, Mueller stated he expects its political and religious diversity to develop. The Christian faculty has expanded over the past decade, even as college enrollment across the nation is down.
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“We’re not a church,” Mueller instructed Fox Information. “We’re a college.”
“I believe that is a extremely wholesome setting that has led to a really, very sturdy group that has grow to be very engaging to individuals throughout the nation,” Mueller stated.
A YAF spokesperson, Michael McGonigle, responded to Mueller’s current feedback in gentle of GCU’s earlier controversy involving Shapiro.
“Although YAF has hosted a number of high-profile conservatives at GCU — together with Elisha Krauss and Ben Shapiro — the College has not at all times been totally supportive of our efforts to take action,” he stated. “Hopefully, the college has realized from its previous errors and can stay resolute within the fall, as we work to carry extra audio system to campus.”
Shapiro declined to touch upon Mueller’s current remarks.
To observe Mueller’s full interview, click here.