Milo calls out UCI for half-hearted endorsement of free speech

The University of California, Irvine pledged its commitment to preserving and exercising free speech Friday, albeit with exceptions.

According to Refined Right, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Thomas Parham sent an email to students, faculty, and staff detailing the university’s stance on free speech, which has come into question after several recent high-profile incidents.

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“As a public university, we must respect the rights of all members of our community who wish to express opinion, voice support, critique an idea, or challenge existing notions that frame the nature of interactions among individuals, institutions, organizations and society generally,” the email states.

“However, the views of those representing one or even a few organizations, the speakers they invite to campus, or their affiliated groups often do not represent the opinions of the other 32,000 students and 16,000 employees on this campus, or the values this university holds dear,” Parham continued.

The email came days before the university was scheduled to host conservative icon Milo Yiannopoulos, which one student sought to prevent with a petition that collected slightly more than 1,000 signatures.

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While Vice Chancellor Parham stated that the university will continue to maintain a “neutral position when it comes to political speech,” however, he also provided a list of exceptions to this stance.

“We will not be neutral when speakers and the crowds who support them use derogatory and vulgar language to insult and demean persons in our community on the basis of their race, citizenship status, gender or sexual orientation.”

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Meanwhile, the university is being criticized by some for its lukewarm stance. Sources at UC Irvine told Refined Right that the email came across as a “clear slight” against Yiannopoulos and the College Republicans student group, which hosted the event.

Yiannopoulos himself even criticized the email, describing it as an empty gesture.

“A claim to respect free speech means nothing unless it holds for offensive, dangerous speech. In fact dangerous speech is the only speech that matters,” he told Campus Reform. “I realize UC Irvine has to pander to its huge, stroppy, and thin-skinned Muslim student population but this cannot and must not be at the expense of unfettered free speech.”

The College Republicans at UCI declined to comment on the email.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AutumnDawnPrice