NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz was in New Haven Monday night, recording a live episode of his podcast in front of an audience of Yale students.

Hundreds of students attended the event at the Omni Hotel. Some students waited outside, hoping to grab an extra seat.

As Cruz took the stage, he was met with cheers and applause from an audience of Yale students. 

At the center of the discussion: the topic of free speech. 

“The most important value of college is encountering others who challenge you, who make you think,” Cruz said.

Last month, a group of students protested a discussion featuring a conservative Christian speaker, who has been described as “anti-LGBTQ+”. The university says the students did not violate its free speech policy.

Cruz was one of the many prominent conservatives who called for Yale to punish the student protestors. 

Cruz addressed the protest: “instead of doing what one would imagine Yale lawyers would be capable of doing, which is presenting arguments and reason, they instead try to exercise a heckler’s veto.”

The William F. Buckley program, a conservative student group dedicated to promoting intellectual diversity, hosted the event and invited Cruz to speak. 

Noah Riley, a Yale sophomore, was grateful students put together this event. 

“I feel like the Republican or conservative voice is silenced here at Yale, so I’m here in support of Senator Cruz,” he said. 

Those attending and Cruz himself expected backlash, but the opposition was elsewhere on campus. 

Students with the Yale Democratic Party on campus hosted a fundraiser and alternative events in response to the senator’s visit.

“We just think it’s really important to offer a constructive alternative for students to be able to express their opposition to his presence on campus but still maybe do some productive good as well,” said Isabella Morales, a Yale sophomore with the Yale College Democrats.

Cruz is touring college campuses through the Young America’s Foundation, a conservative youth organization.