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

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

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.


Francesca Viola is a freelance writer and consultant interested in First Amendment issues, particularly in academia and journalism. She is an attorney and former journalism professor at Temple University. She began her career in television news in Philadelphia and still resides there.


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Conservative Beaner | July 30, 2023 at 9:14 pm

Facists gotta facist.

Growing up in California I remember when the students at Berkley protested and demonstrated for freedom of speech.

Today at colleges in every state protest and demonstrate against free speech.

Public Colleges and Universities are funded by the taxpayers and are government entities and they are subject to the first amendment enforcement as any other agency.

    Students at Berkley were never protesting for free speech. They were protesting for their speech to be allowed, and for Christians (those with morals) to be suppressed.

    It was never about real freedom. It was always about license and driving our Christianity.

      Kepha H in reply to GWB. | July 31, 2023 at 10:52 am

      You are absolutely correct. It was free speech for Maxists, pervs, and spewers of profanity–Tourette’s Syndrome turned into America’s official language.

      JohnSmith100 in reply to GWB. | July 31, 2023 at 11:34 am

      To be fair, there are many people with morals who are not Christians, and also many evil people claim to be Christians.

        Perhaps. But they wanted Christian morals removed so they could engage in hedonism and running down America.

        (The nation was overwhelmingly Christian in its morals at that time. While many people might not have been Christians, the morals they observed as part of our society were.)

    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles.

    Frank Herbert, Children of Dune

    BTW, you could claim this as the third casualty. But Truth might have died long before this current battle.

Public universities today are no more than another way to siphon tax dollars for left wing political purposes.

I don’t think, as a state, Arizona is quite as blue as those lefties running ASU are assuming it is.

Where is ASU’s leadership? Hiding under their desk?

Friends don’t let friends have anything to do with ASU.

If you’ve got what it takes to get an offer of admission to ASU then you have what it takes to have a wonderful life — without ever having to interact with anybody affiliated with ASU.


    Jvj1975 in reply to Jvj1975. | July 30, 2023 at 10:40 pm

    Options? You have many, many alternatives to ASU. For example, move in with family or friend in another state or to another country. To receive in-state tuition rates, you’ll need to live somewhere legally for a year or more. Meantime, get a job waiting tables, or tending bar, or teaching ESL, or driving a commercial vehicle. Or fixing A/C. Or get your CPR certification and work as au pair. Or pass your National Ski Patrol certification and work a season at Taos. Or Aspen. Or back east at Stowe or Killington. Or teach at Arthur Murray for a year.

    Many other options for you, depending on your own circumstances.

    Btw, with just a little bit of effort, you could also take online Spanish classes and raise your Spanish proficiency from “Typical Gringo high schooler level” to perhaps legitimate Level A2 or B1.

    After a year, you’ll be able to reassess where you’re at. And where you’d like to go.

    You don’t need ASU in your life. There are 49 other states.

    And there are about 190 other countries.

    Good luck.

    henrybowman in reply to Jvj1975. | July 30, 2023 at 10:42 pm

    I can state this from personal family experience.

One would think that sooner or later the Az taxpayers will get fed up enough with paying out on these lawsuits to actually do something about the abuses being committed on their dime.

Or not.

    henrybowman in reply to Gosport. | July 30, 2023 at 10:43 pm

    Like the USA, Arizona has a large “tax underclass” that pays no such taxes at all. And they eat and drink this class hatred.

This is a Maoist Cultural Revolution. The fanatical antics of the Khmer Rouge also come to mind. There’s no other way to fairly describe the vile Dumb-o-crats’ obnoxiously totalitarian bullying and persecution of conservative speakers/events and free speech, in general.

Hunter Biden’s formula for health, wealth & happiness:

Health: Filet mignon & caviar
Wealth: China & Ukraine
Happiness: Hookers & cocaine

Lucifer Morningstar | July 31, 2023 at 8:20 am

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.

So they sent out the university-wide email stating she was fired first and only afterwards informed her that she was terminated? Just how shitty is that. And what is this whole obsession with universities/colleges email bombing staff, faculty, and students with information like this. It’s got to be a violation of Blake’s right to privacy or something.

I doubt that neither Linda Blake nor Ann Atkinson had any idea of what Dennis Prager and Charlie Kirk are really like. When I hear statements like “purveyors of hate” or “white supremacists”, that tells me they are getting their information from mainstream news or from other hateful, uninformed dems. More large donors need to do what Mr. Lewis did and stop the funding of this nonsense.

    GWB in reply to stevie. | July 31, 2023 at 10:28 am

    The “nonsense” he stopped funding was the T.W Lewis Center for Personal Development. The very people who hosted the “hateful” speakers.

What gets me is that supposed civil rights groups like Institute for Justice and Reason, have not sought to sue school officials. You would think with all the interest of getting rid of qualified immunity, school officials would be the prime target and an easy target. BUT, they’re been silent, dead silent, much like during the covid era when every executive branch member violated constitutional rights.