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University of Colorado Law Professor Suzette Malveaux, left, laughs as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan gestures to the crowd in October at Macky Auditorium at the University of Colorado Boulder.
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The spread of coronavirus caused the cancellation of dozens of University of Colorado Boulder events, from campus-wide celebrations like commencement to smaller guest lectures and gatherings.

But some organizers, including those at the Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization and the White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law, are taking events online rather than canceling.

The Benson Center was forced to cancel most of its events this spring, said Interim Director Ben Hale, particularly those that brought out-of-town speakers into Boulder.

“But we wanted to keep the spirit of the center up over the remainder of the semester,” Hale said. “We still want to maintain some kind of a community as a university.”

The center’s senior scholar in residence, William B. Allen, was set to give the final lecture of the American National Character speaker series on April 13. Rather than cancel the event because of state and local restrictions on public gatherings, organizers created a virtual event.

“It seems like an opportunity to have some of our scholars speak more broadly to our community,” Hale said. “Our objective as a center is to be a window for the community to look into the university, and to shine out on to the community.”

Allen’s lecture was originally going to be on the downfalls of diversity, but Hale said it may change to address more timely issues, like the pandemic.

The annual Ira C. Rothgerber Jr. Conference is one of the White Center’s signature programs, said center director Suzette Malveaux. Set for Friday, this year’s conference is focusing on women’s issues to mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, allowing women to vote.

Because staff had several weeks notice, it was possible to launch an entirely virtual conference, Malveaux said. More than 400 people have registered, which is the largest conference the center has ever had, Malveaux said, because the conference’s in-person capacity is usually 100 attendees. If the conference goes over capacity for a Zoom session, organizers will create a YouTube livestream for additional viewers.

“I feel like people are hungry for the kind of programming and intellectual exchange that we’re offering, so for our students and legal community we will be able to have a broader reach than we would have otherwise,” Malveaux said.

The conference will feature speakers from University of California Berkeley, Princeton University and Colorado Law, is free to register for and counts for six continuing legal education credits.

“What I have heard from people is they really appreciate the fact that we’re going forward because a lot of things are being canceled, which is appropriate, but it’s disappointing. There’s a desire to talk about something other than the coronavirus,” Malveaux said.

“If we canceled it, there’s no guarantee we would have ever been able to put together that line up of people again.”

Both events are free but require preregistration. For the Allen lecture, visit colorado.edu/center/benson. For the Rothgerber conference, visit colorado.edu/law.

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