Second Casualty In ASU Anti-Conservative Speech Crackdown – Auditorium Operations Manager

ASU event Kirk Prager e1690592089308

by Francesca Viola at

Linda Blake, operations manager of the ASU Gammage Auditorium, asserts she was fired as a result of an event including Dennis Prager and Charlie Kirk, joining Ann Atkinson, Executive Director of the T.W. Lewis Center that organized the event as casualties of anti-conservative cancel culture.

There’s another casualty of Arizona State University’s attempt to shut down conservative speech in a scandal that has already seen one administrator fired, a major donor withdraw funding, and an investigation launched by the state legislature.

Linda Blake was the operations manager of the Gammage Auditorium, where talk show host and book author Dennis Prager and Turning Point USA Founder Charlie Kirk spoke at an event called “Health, Wealth And Happiness.” Blake says she was fired after she helped Ann Atkinson, The Director Of The T. W. Lewis Center For Personal Development, organize the event, which also included economist Robert Kiyosaki. The mission of the T.W. Lewis Center was to promote ‘traditional American values of personal responsibility, hard work, civic duty, faith, family and community service.”

The T.W. Lewis Center was housed in the Barrett Honors College. At a hearing held by an ad hoc committee of the state legislature last week, Ann Atkinson, Executive Director of the Center, testified how the faculty in the honors college launched a university-wide campaign to shut the February event down.

Thirty-nine professors in the honors college signed a petition and wrote an open letter to the administration calling Prager And Kirk “purveyors of hate” who target women, people of color, and LGBTQ people. Atkinson also told the lawmakers that many of the 39 professors who signed the petition used class time to slander Prager and Kirk and discourage students from attending the event. Atkinson described a variety of events and attitudes perpetrated by the faculty and administration that led to intimidation and fear.

Both Blake and Atkinson were fired following the event. As reported by National Review this week, Blake said in a letter to the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) that despite good evaluations from her boss and being told she was a “rock star” for her work managing the venue, she experienced two months of questions about her competence following the event.

According to her letter to ABOR, Blake’s manager was asked by the executive director of the theatre, Colleen Roggensack, “Why would we allow a white supremacist to speak in our theatre?’” In one disturbing incident, Blake was accused by another employee of buying her underage daughter a drink at another event at the theatre that she ran. Blake wrote that she was called into her supervisor’s office, and when she explained that she never even purchased anything at the event, supervisor Jeff Rollins told Blake that he would look through the closed circuit tapes of the event and that she should take a couple of days of to unwind while things blew over.

A few days later, Blake’s team sent out a university-wide email saying she would no longer be working in her position. She was later informed by her boss that “she was no longer a good fit for her job” and was fired on April 3.

Following the event, the main donor to the T.W. Lewis Center, Tom Lewis, informed the university that he would not be paying the $400000 in funds he had committed to this fiscal year.

In a statement, Lewis said:

“Because these were mostly conservative speakers, I expected some opposition, but I was shocked and disappointed by the alarming and outright hostility demonstrated by the Barrett faculty and administration toward these speakers…after seeing the level of left-wing hostility and activism I no longer had any confidence in Barrett to adhere to the terms of our gift, and made the decision to terminate our agreement, effective June 30, 2023.”

Following Lewis’s announcement, Arizona State closed down the T.W Lewis Center for Personal Development and has had no comment on Blake’s letter to the Arizona Board of Regents.

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