A group of students called the Coalition Against the Ultra Right delivered a petition to University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone’s office today in protest of Breitbart News Editor Milo Yiannopoulos coming to campus next week as part of his “Dangerous Faggot Tour.”
Yiannopoulos, who is openly gay and nicknamed the Dangerous Faggot, has been visiting college campuses for this tour since early September.
The petition asked for Chancellor Mone to publicly state that UWM does not endorse Yiannopoulos’ views and isn’t funding the event. It was distributed on Facebook and had 329 signatures as of 8 p.m. on Dec. 7.
According to the Director of Media Services at UWM, Michelle Johnson, the university is legally prohibited from blocking access to a speaker based on his or her views.
“Supporting free speech is one of UWM’s core values, even when some of those ideas are disagreeable or controversial,” said Johnson. “That being said, UWM does not endorse Yiannopoulos’ views.”
The Coalition Against the Ultra Right is a group of UWM students and teachers’ assistants who have come together in opposition to allowing Yiannopoulos to speak on campus. They’re planning a protest outside of the Wisconsin Room, where Yiannopoulos will be speaking next Tuesday night.
Although the terms “ultra right” and “alt-right” are similar, Co-founder Ben Turk said the group deliberately did not use the term “alt-right” in their name.
“Alt-right is the language that they use to try to conceal their white nationalist and misogynist politics, and ultra right or straight up Nazi is more accurate,” said Turk.
The group planned to meet in its Curtin Hall office at 2:15 p.m. today and then walk to the chancellor’s office together. While a few members waited for the last couple to arrive, two campus police officers approached the office and said they had received a 911 emergency call from the room. No one in the room had called them.
“It’s not unexpected, and it’s kind of silly,” said Loretta McCormick, a graduate student and English TA who spoke with the police officer.
McCormick said she thought the call was likely made by someone who doesn’t support the petition.
Once the rest of the group arrived, the team of six walked over to the chancellor’s office in Chapman Hall. They entered the building flanked by a cameraman from WISN
The organization had arranged to meet with Michelle Hamberlin in the Student Affairs office to deliver the petition. There was a moment of confusion when they found her office empty, but Hamberlin arrived seconds later and was given the petition.
After a successful delivery, the group decided to stop by the chancellor’s office on the second floor and make sure they were going about the process of scheduling a meeting with the chancellor correctly.
While they were talking to staff, two other campus police officers arrived and stood behind the Coalition, watching them.
“The police have been following us around,” said Turk. “So we’re basically going through complex bureaucratic rigamarole with full police intimidation.”
The group was told it has to fill out an event form to talk with the chancellor. They filled it out on the spot and submitted it, although they likely won’t hear back for about a month.
Yiannopoulos’ event will be hosted and funded by Turning Point USA at UWM, the student chapter of a national organization that supports free markets, limited government and fiscal responsibility. The group is non-partisan and does not take stances on social issues.
President Abrianna Koenig created the UWM chapter in October. She was inspired by a conference she attended over the summer, hosted by Turning Point USA, where she heard conservative politicians speak.
Koenig’s group will host Milo Yiannopoulos, editor of the conservative news website Breitbart News and outspoken voice of the far right. Yiannopoulos’ views have spurred controversy, including his opinions on women, Muslims, Jewish people and lesbians. Koenig said that while she doesn’t agree with many of his views, she supports his First Amendment rights and is excited to bring him to campus. Breitbart has gained more attention this fall with the election of Donald Trump, as he’s chosen its former CEO, Steve Bannon, as his chief strategist.
The UWM chapter of Turning Point USA took on the speaker after the student organization Young Americans for Liberty at UWM could not host him due to legal reasons. According to Morgan Paradis, president of the UWM chapter of YAL, the lawyers for their national organization think hosting Yiannopoulos might violate their nonprofit tax status.
Protestors have been contacting Koenig, requesting that she cancel the event.
“Hey, more power to them,” said Koenig. “They have just as much right to freedom of speech as I do.”
Protestors have also requested that the school cancel the event.
Paradis believes that Yiannopoulos should be allowed to speak due to his First Amendment rights.
“I think that he’s an important person for free speech because he’s provocative; he gets a lot of attention,” said Paradis. “He’s got interesting viewpoints on things so it’s a valuable opinion to have on campus.”
In Paradis’ opinion, Yiannopoulos is a cultural symbol for conservatives.
“He just represents saying whatever you want and not being worried about offending people,” said Paradis.
Her advice to people who are offended by Yiannapoulos’ views is simple: Don’t attend the event.
“Everyone who’s going to it will be there voluntarily, so it’s not like we’re assaulting people with this speech that you think is hurtful,” said Paradis. “It’s just people getting together and hearing some ideas.”