House Speaker Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, issued the following statement:
“The incident at Virginia Commonwealth University on March 29th is another sad episode of free speech being shouted down on college campuses across our nation. The behavior and actions of the students opposed to the pro-life speakers is appalling. So was the reaction of university officials who shut down the event, rather than protecting the free speech of those invited to campus.
“College campuses are supposed to be crucibles of free speech and debate. It is where we are challenged to think for ourselves, defend our ideals, and develop different and better understandings of the people around us. What we are seeing on campuses across the nation, and now in Richmond, are students intentionally insulating themselves from challenges to what they believe and instead, demanding an echo chamber that validates what they already believe. This does not prepare them for life after college.
“Students who matriculate from our public colleges and universities should be prepared to intellectually engage with the world around them in a constructive way. Shouting down speakers with whom you disagree accomplishes the opposite. VCU must do a better job of protecting the rights of those who speak on their campus while teaching students to engage with ideas they find objectionable.”