By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A controversial internet personality’s visit to the University of Minnesota inflamed passions Wednesday night.

Lauren Southern is a 22-year-old on a mission. The Canadian-born author and commentator’s visit is sponsored by a student organization using student fees to pay for it.

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University Police say about 130 people attended the event while an estimated 200 to 250 people protested outside. One person was arrested, police said they hadn’t heard of any injuries.

The groups that are responsible for bringing her to campus say they hope her message of free speech is heard loud and clear.

David Blondin, with Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), says bringing Southern to the university fits perfectly with his group’s mission.

“Primarily, we are an environmentalist free marketing group,” he said. “We believe that all opinions need to be heard in order to come out with a final product.”

Blondin says Southern is all about free speech.

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The internet personality says she loves to speak about the evils and inefficiencies of authoritanism and the necessity of political discussion.

Southern says some who oppose her try violently to suppress her speech.

Campus police say they will be present to make sure students who plan to participate in the talk or protest are safe.

CFACT says it welcomes thoughtful discussion of the issues.

“For any real progress to be made socially, you have to have a free marketplace of ideas,” Blondin said.

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The event is not hosted, endorsed or sponsored by the university, but an allocation of student fees to CFACT and Students for a Conservative voice, the other event sponsor, paid for Southern’s visit.

Reg Chapman