Controversial journalist and activist Milo Yiannopoulos speaking on campus Tuesday
The “most fabulous super-villain on the internet” is coming to the University of Oregon.
Young Americans for Liberty, the university’s wing of the Libertarian party, is making waves by bringing Milo Yiannopoulos, the controversial tech editor of Breitbart, to speak on Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m. in Columbia 150.
YAL is no stranger to controversy. ASUO denied funding for a firearm-raffle poker night last year, which resulted in the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education issuing a warning to the university, accusing them of meting out funds based on personal bias.
ASUO approved YAL’s request for $4,500 to sponsor the event. Many senate members disagreed with Yiannopoulos but believed that inviting apposing viewpoints to campus is important.
“It’s important that we are be able to coexist with people we don’t agree with all the time,” senator Nakai Corral said at the April 13 senate meeting. “I’d ask the senate to push the freedom of speech and allow this speaker on campus.”
UO student Michael Lindsay reached out to Yiannopoulos through Twitter, then asked YAL if they would sponsor the event. They accepted.
“A lot of his speaking tour has been sponsored by different YAL chapters,” YAL member Thomas Tullis said. “We don’t actually think there’s anything wrong with controversy, and that actually controversy might be a good thing.”
Controversy comes hand over fist with Yiannopoulos, who has established the Yiannopoulos Privilege Grant, a scholarship available exclusively to white men; questioned the validity of “rape culture” on college campuses (see video); and clashed with Twitter executives by claiming that his “verified” status was removed in an attempt to silence conservative voices on the popular social media platform.
Brandon Clements, the Oregon State Chair for YAL, sees the event as somewhat of a challenge to political correctness. “The whole goal is to have something controversial enough to start a conversation afterwards,” he said. “When you are facing such a militant and hard ‘P.C.’ culture, you have to have something almost equally as opposite, outrageous, to even find any middle ground.”
Constructive conversation may be the goal, but a number of challenges stand in the way. Previous events on Yiannopoulos’ speaking tour have either been cancelled outright or met with angry protesters such as students at Rutgers smearing fake blood on their faces or audience members calling him a Nazi at the University of Pittsburgh.
With a history of protests following Yiannopoulos, the UOPD has been made aware of the event, but is not taking any extra precautions.
“Generally, departments or groups are able to pay UOPD to have specific personnel at events,” Kelly McIver, UOPD’s Public Information Officer, said in an e-mail. “To my knowledge, this has not happened for this event … We will just be aware and available if there is an issue that requires intervention. The goal is to have smooth events that further the institution’s goal of a free exchange of ideas in a safe and respectful manner.”
YAL hopes the event will bring some alternative viewpoints to campus. “I don’t agree with Milo on a lot of things,” Tullis said. “But the idea that we have sort of an echo chamber of political correctness on campus–it sort of lends itself to this university censorship, where everyone surrounds themselves with other people who have the same viewpoints.”
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