Faculty reject 'marketplace of ideas,' demand censorship
- More than 70 faculty members have signed an open letter calling on California State University-Fullerton to “reconsider” allowing an upcoming College Republicans event.
- Echoing a pending student government resolution, the faculty claim that Yiannopoulos "has repeatedly incited violence" at previous events, causing "vulnerable students" to feel unsafe coming to campus on the day he speaks.
- Conservative students, however, called the professors' arguments "misguided," pointing out that the real risk of violence comes from leftist protesters seeking to disrupt the event.
More than 70 faculty members have signed an open letter calling on California State University-Fullerton to “reconsider” allowing an upcoming College Republicans event.
The CSUF College Republicans are scheduled to host Milo Yiannopoulos on Halloween, and news of the event has already prompted the CSUF student government to propose a resolution officially denouncing Yiannopoulos’ appearance.
According to the resolution, Yiannopoulos “has put students in jeopardy by publicly sharing information regarding their gender and citizenship status,” and “over [sic] 5,000 student and community members have signed a petition ‘No Alt-Right Speakers or Hate Groups at CSUF.’”
The faculty letter, published Sunday in The Daily Titan, echoes those claims, asserting that “Yiannopoulos has repeatedly incited violence” at previous events, and “has encouraged his followers to reveal the names of undocumented students, gender-transitioning students and other vulnerable populations.”
CR Event Director Ryan Hoskins, however, called the allegations an “outright lie,” telling Campus Reform that “the editors and writers at The Daily Titan should be ashamed, to say nothing of the 70 faculty who signed on.”
The letter is particularly critical of the administration’s assurance that “no classes or classroom activity will be affected” by the event, saying, “Muslim, feminist, undocumented, trans and other vulnerable students have told some of us that they do not feel safe attending class that day, so many of us have planned online activities that these threatened students can complete in lieu of classes.”
In addition, the professors note that the CSUF Children’s Center and the Titan Student Union are both planning to close early on the day of the event, saying that while they “appreciate these steps for safety,” the closures “indicate that classes and classroom activities will be disrupted.”
The letter also challenges the administration’s assertion that “the First Amendment compels us to allow student groups to host speakers of their choice,” arguing that “Yiannopoulos’ speech crosses the line between protected free speech and less protected speech that incites violence,” and that in any event the First Amendment “does not compel us to provide a platform for that speech.”
Indeed, the professors even object to the notion that a college campus should be a “marketplace of ideas,” saying they are “troubled by this neoliberal language” because it implies that all ideas are equally worthy of consideration.
“We hope CSUF will reconsider supporting Yiannopoulos’ appearance on campus,” the letter concludes, but adds that if the event is allowed to proceed as planned, students and faculty have organized a “Unity Block Party” to coincide with the speech.
Shayla Servantez, president of Turning Point USA at CSUF and a member of the CSUF College Republicans, told Campus Reform that the professors’ fear of violence is “misguided,” pointing out that the real risk of violence comes not from Yiannopoulos or his supporters, but rather from those who might seek to physically oppose his appearance.
“Security is needed to keep attendees safe, because it’s the other side that gets violent,” she said. “Milo is not even my favorite person, but I still believe he has the right to talk and other people have the right to disagree peacefully.”
Brooke Paz, CSUF College Republicans event coordinator and president of CSUF Students for Life, went even further, saying she finds it “absolutely terrifying that faculty members of an American college advocate for the rejection of students' Constitutional right to free speech.”
On the other hand, though, she also said she is “grateful” to the professors in question for “identifying themselves as liberal extremists who oppose my Constitutional right.”
Among the signatories to the faculty letter are 18 psychology professors, seven ethnic studies professors, and four anthropology professors, along with a smattering of others representing disciplines such as sociology, history, counseling, and literature.
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