Protestors forced entry into a hall where Tomi Lahren was set to give a speech at the University of Mexico, pulling fire alarms and ultimately shutting down the event.
Colleges and universities were once praised for fostering individuals’ rights to freedom of speech. But in a growing fashion, many fear that these institutions for higher education are restricting certain students’ rights under the First Amendment. The recent scheduling of controversial commentator Tomi Lahren is proving that theory true, as her speech scheduled at the University of New Mexico was disrupted and ultimately shut down.
Conservative Fox News commentator Tomi Lahren was set to be a guest speaker for a Turning Point USA event inside the University of New Mexico on September 15th. The 30-year-old was giving her “Talking with Tomi” speech. However, the address never went off, as it was shut down by protesting students.
According to reports from FIRE, a nonpartisan activist organization with a mission to preserve free speech rights on school campuses, Tomi Lahren’s speech was disrupted by protestors. Video footage shows the group shouting “shut it down” as they force their way into the hall holding the event. Opposing students banged on walls and doors and eventually pulled fire alarms to make sure the speech would not commence.
Fox News condemned the protestor’s acts, calling the Tomi Lahren protestors violent. While most would agree that this was a violation of free speech rights, some would condemn the conservative media outlet for calling the actions “violent”. After all, no one was injured during the protest, and their recount of the events only serves to further divide the nation.
However, the protestors did appear to become unruly, and they certainly are guilty of disrupting the speech. The University of New Mexico released a statement after the Tomi Lahren event condemning the acts of the students. They noted that the property was vandalized, and a fire alarm was illegally pulled.
Tomi Lahren first rose to national prominence for her conservative American values and viewpoints in politics. She further gained attention after working with The Great American Alliance, an advocacy organization that supports Donald Trump. Today, she is a talk show host on Fox Nation.
The conservative commentator has long been criticized by liberals for lambasting the Black Lives Matter movement along with her radical stance opposing immigration. But just as protestors should be given the right to peacefully object to Tomi Lahren’s appearance on the campus, the rights for her to speak her opinion, and those who choose to listen, should also be upheld. The university is now under fire for failing to ensure the safety of both Lahren and the event’s attendees.
Speaking with OutKick, Tomi Lahren ridiculed the college for its lack of safety. She asserted that school officials were well aware of the planned protest, but did nothing to ramp up security. “The University of New Mexico doesn’t seem to care, not only about my safety, but about the safety of their own students, and left us all barricaded in a room with basically rabid banshee animals trying to bust down the doors to get to us,” she said.
Since the incident, the University of New Mexico has vowed to improve its policies. They pledged to meet and discuss how to foster safe environments during guest speaker events in the future. Additionally, they promise to ensure the public’s right to free speech.
The disruption of Tomi Lahren’s speech is further dividing America’s liberals and conservatives. But most of all, it is showing just how faulty colleges and universities are, as they appear to have no repercussions for those who violate free speech rights and liberties. For now, it is unknown whether or not Lahren will ever accept an invitation to speak at the university again, but what is certain is that all eyes will be on the school to see how it handles future protests.