Penn will no longer permit conservative filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza to hold an event in the ARCH building.
University officials said they were working with students to find a new venue that will offer the Penn community a chance to attend the event safely. Penn said the decision to shut down the event in the ARCH building was driven by security concerns and has not offered an alternative venue, Penn College Republicans leaders said. The club still intends to bring D'Souza to campus.
Originally scheduled for Nov. 12, D’Souza’s lecture is part of Young Americas Foundation "Preserving American Liberty and Freedom Lecture Series," which aims to bring conservative ideas to students on high school and college campuses.
The College Republicans event previously drew student criticism for D'Souza's history of controversial comments. The filmmaker has mocked the survivors of the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Fla. and compared teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg to Nazi propaganda.
"The event sponsored by the College Republicans has not been cancelled—we are working with the students to relocate it to a venue that will provide the speaker and attendees improved access and security," University spokesperson Stephen MacCarthy wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian. "The event is open to all members of the Penn community with PennCards."
The University’s decision to call off the event in the ARCH building was "sudden and unexpected," Wharton sophomore and College Republicans Communications Director Corey Paredes wrote in an email to the DP.
Paredes wrote that in addition to safety concerns, Penn cited a limited ability to enforce its Open Expression policy at the event as a reason for the decision. Paredes added that College Republicans is currently working with the University to find another venue for the event.
Paredes did not provide further details on whether the new venue would be on campus.
Penn’s Open Expression policy ensures the freedom of thought, inquiry, speech, lawful assembly, and the freedom to voice criticism of existing practices and values.
Paredes declined to comment on whether he believes the backlash on former United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Thomas Homan is related to the University’s decision to cancel this event.
Perry World House abruptly ended the “Detention and Deportation from Obama to Trump” event on immigration policy on Oct. 23 before Homan could speak. Dozens of students wielded signs reading "Abolish ICE" and "No one is illegal on stolen land” inside and outside Perry World House. Before the protest, more than 500 students and alumni signed a petition demanding that Penn cancel the event because of controversial policies Homan implemented when he led ICE.
“If Penn is going to admit students that protest and scream at opposing views, and hire faculty who encourage such conduct, then the University should be prepared to pay for the costs of the monster it has created,” Paredes wrote.
Penn's three cultural centers — the Pan-Asian American Community House, Makuu, and La Casa Latina — are all located in the basement of the ARCH building.
Deputy News Editor Grant Bianco contributed reporting.
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