Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at UCCS, met with controversy from student body

January 24, 2017

Kyle Guthrie

[email protected]

     Milo Yiannopoulos, British journalist and technology editor for media outlet Breitbart News, will speak on Jan. 26 in the Upper Lodge at UCCS.

     The event, sponsored by the UCCS College Republicans and Turning Point USA, has sparked controversy among the campus community.

     The UCCS College Republicans and Turning Point USA are solely responsible for the finances to cover the event without the use of university funding, according to Martin Toetz, detective for Public Safety.

     Chancellor Pam ShockleyZalabak addressed the event and Yiannopoulos’ rhetoric in a statement published on Dec. 22.

     “I absolutely reject this type of rhetoric. The statements that Mr. Yiannopoulos has made at other campuses are clearly in opposition to the values of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and its commitment to creating an inclusive community that welcomes all,” ShockleyZalabak said in her statement.

     “At the same time, the University of Colorado system adheres to the freedoms embodied in the United States Constitution…when a student group invites a speaker, the University of Colorado does not censor the speaker because it disagrees with his viewpoints.”

     Sabrina Wienholtz, director of Student Clubs, Organizations and Leadership, and Brad Bayer, senior executive director of Student Life and Leadership approved the event’s listing on the UCCS Events and Mountain Lion Connect website.

     A student club’s event goes through a series of approvals before it gets listed, according to Wienholtz, who has the final say in what events are posted.

     “The College Republicans followed all of the processes (and) have done everything they needed to do process wise and policy wise. (They are) therefore permitted to have their event because we do not get to say no based on the viewpoint of the person they are bringing,” said Wienholtz.

     Yiannopoulos’ appearance was organized by junior communication major Stephen Bates, vice president of the UCCS College Republicans. Protestors have expressed their disapproval regarding the event to Bates.

     “They incorrectly believe that we are bringing a NeoNazi on campus, and they say a lot of things that are not factual or just flat out lies,” said Bates.

     The Colorado Springs AntiFascists have organized an event called Shut down Milo Yiannopoulos on campus from 4-7 p.m. on Jan. 26 to protest Yiannopoulos’ visit.

     “We must do everything we can to show him that he is not welcome here, and to shut it down. Here in Colorado Springs, we embrace diversity and equality, and will not welcome a nazi (sic) to our city,” reads the Facebook posting from the group.

     “There have been people who plan to be a part of that protest or resistance who have reached out to me. They say that they are trying to make me scared, and lot of other ridiculous threats,” said Bates.

     Public Safety is monitoring social media to have an idea of what to expect for those who are protesting, according to UCCS detective Martin Toetz. The monitoring process is a normal event for Public Safety in circumstances such as this one.

     But security will be increased, said Toetz. About 80 percent of the CU Boulder Police Department will serve along with UCCS police officers during the night of the event due to the high expectancy of demonstrators.

     “Obviously the campus and the students and faculty safety is extremely important, so we want to make sure we have enough people to keep everybody safe,” said Toetz. Toetz does not anticipate an event cancellation due to protestors.

     On-campus groups like the UCCS College Democrats, who are against Yiannopoulos’s viewpoints, do not have plans to protest or publicly oppose Yiannopoulos’ visit to UCCS, according to Mary Claire Rizzardi, president of the UCCS College Democrats.

     “We are not involved, mostly because we don’t agree with anything he or Breitbart News says,” said Rizzardi, a junior political science major.

     “We are not going to lead any sort of protest. We don’t endorse protests for the most part,” said Rizzardi.

     As far as student opinion is concerned, many people have expressed their disagreements with Yiannopoulos’ rhetoric. Rizzardi said she disagrees with Yiannopoulos’ viewpoints on feminism and women.

     “He has gone into extensive articles and opinion pieces before on why the pill is bad for women socially, and it makes them unhappy because it takes away what they are meant to do. It was not satirical and I find that very offensive,” said Rizzardi.

     “We (the UCCS College Democrats) don’t endorse or condone any sort of hate speech like that; we want this to be a safe space for everyone, and we don’t believe that women (only) belong in the home.”

     Brianna Anderson, senior business finance major, said that she is not thrilled that this speaker will be on campus.

     “I know that Colorado Springs is thought of to be a more conservative city; however, I don’t necessarily agree with the standard that we have set for ourselves,” said Anderson.

     “I think that it harms our reputation as a school, because I don’t agree with some of the stuff he says.”

     Students should be focusing on their communities and supporting each other, according to Anthony Cordova, director of MOSAIC.

     “Milo is one person; the community is still the community,” said Cordova.

     “We can give him more power by worrying what he can do. Thinking about events that counter him only makes him feel better.”

     Cordova becomes defensive when he hears of people getting hurt due to misinformation. But it’s important to understand how Yiannpolous may work on people’s emotions to get a reaction, said Cordova. The event can still be an interesting learning experience for students.

     “The cool thing is when you have something being held in a college environment, you have the ability to examine an issue and looking at whether or not the message is valid,” said Cordova.

     UCCS College Republican vice president Bates said that while many students disapprove of the event entirely, campus staff and faculty respect Yiannopoulos’ right to speak. Bates encourages Yiannopoulos’ critics to research his viewpoints before labelling him.

The Scribe news editor, Jasmine Nelson and managing editor, Hannah Harvey contributed to this article.