California State University at Los Angeles’s president reversed himself on Thursday, allowing a conservative commentator to speak on the campus just days after he said the event would not take place. The speaker, Ben Shapiro, had vowed to appear on the campus as scheduled, with or without the university’s approval.
The president, William A. Covino, said in a written statement on Thursday that he strongly disagreed with Mr. Shapiro’s views. “But if Mr. Shapiro does appear,” he said, “the university will allow him to speak.”
Mr. Shapiro, an editor at Breitbart News, did appear, and he spoke for about an hour. He was briefly interrupted by a fire alarm at the beginning.
Mr. Covino’s statement was a reversal of an announcement on Monday in which he said that Mr. Shapiro would not be allowed to speak at an event sponsored by a student group. Mr. Shapiro said throughout the week that he would speak regardless of Mr. Covino’s stance.
On Thursday afternoon before the speech, the divide over Mr. Shapiro’s appearance intensified on the campus.
A video published by Breitbart News, which describes itself as a conservative news website, appeared to show one of its reporters being verbally abused by protesters.
A professor of Pan-African studies, Melina Abdullah, who has spoken out against Mr. Shapiro’s appearance, posted multiple videos on Instagram of protesters outside the event.