NYU’s core values of diversity and open-mindedness were challenged on Oct.16 when the university cancelled Milo Yiannopoulos’ speech at the New York campus. Milo Yiannopoulos, an alt-right journalist, was going to give a talk on Nov.17. According to Washington Square News, the administration cancelled the event because of the security concerns. Some of Yiannopoulos’ speeches at other college campuses on his “The Dangerous Faggot” tour were accompanied with violence and physical altercations. At DePaul University, students outraged by Yiannopoulos’ racist claims stormed on the stage and prevented him from continuing the event. At NYU the speech was scheduled in the Eisner & Lubin Auditorium, near NYU’s Islamic Center, LGBTQ Center and the Center for Multicultural Education and Programs. The administration worried about hostility rising because of Yiannopoulos’ controversial attitude towards minority groups.
The concern is understandable, if we consider what Yiannopoulos stands for. An avid Trump supporter, Yiannopoulos began gathering followers after his involvement in the misogynistic Gamergate movement. In his article related to the movement,
Yiannopoulos casually stated: “An army of sociopathic feminist programmers and campaigners, abetted by achingly politically correct American tech bloggers, are terrorising the entire [gaming] community.”
Not surprisingly, Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter after he incited racist web harassment of “Ghostbusters” actress Leslie Jones. Milo Yiannopoulos’ comments on Planned Parenthood also incited criticism: “That’s why I don’t like Planned Parenthood. They kill all those black babies. In 20 years, they could be my harem.“
And yet, since NYU teaches us to be cosmopolitan –to appreciate both sides of an argument–it’s expected for students to be able to at least listen to Yiannopoulos’ opinions. The Yiannopoulos speech cancellation does not reflect well on the freedom of speech policy at the university. As other NYU students pointed out, most other colleges simply increased security at the Milo Yiannopoulos events, instead of banning the conservative speaker from their campuses. The NYU administration made the decision without even consulting the organizers of the event, the NYU College Republicans.
In their statement, the College Republicans expressed their disappointment with the situation: “It is deeply offensive to use this [security] pretext to justify using the power of the NYU establishment to allow one group of students to silence another at will.” They are now trying reach out to the administration and reschedule the event.
This article was written by Mira Yoo. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Washington Square News