Milo Yiannopoulos, conservative speaker and Breitbart journalist, is slated to visit UC Berkeley in early February to speak to the Berkeley College Republicans (BCR) on campus. BCR will likely have to pay a fee of around $10,000 to cover the costs for Yiannopoulos’ appearance, according to the school's newspaper, The Daily Californian.
This cost is stirring up controversy because members of BCR believe the school is trying to make it prohibitively expensive for them to bring Yiannopoulos to campus. Student union representatives have maintained that the cost is based objectively on the size, accessibility and security needs for the event, not because of the speaker or his views (Berkeley’s students and professors are known for their liberal views).
“I think it’s important that adequate safety and security concerns are readdressed in preparation for this event given the security and safety concerns that have arisen when Milo Yiannopoulos has spoken at other campuses,” Will Morrow, president of the Associated Students of University of California, told the Daily Californian.
Yiannopoulos’ visits to other college campuses have prompted protests and physical altercations, leading a number of colleges and universities to cancel his visits altogether. Berkeley College administrators do not consider these precedents grounds for calling off Yiannopoulos’ appearance there, however.
Berkeley students on the political left have denounced the visit of Yiannopoulos and said that it will harm members of the university community who have been further marginalized by Donald Trump's election. "Milo's appearance here is only going to enable more people to harass them," Caiden Nason, vice president of membership of Cal Berkeley Democrats, wrote to the Daily Californian when Yiannopoulos' visit was first announced. "Milo's appearance reflects a group of students on campus who are more interested in causing problems than having conversations."
UC Berkeley policy as well as the parameters of the First Amendment prevent the campus from barring Yiannopoulos based on his political views. “While we realize that the presence of certain speakers is likely to upset some members of our campus community...students and faculty members retain the right to invite individuals on campus,” Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof wrote in an email, according to the Daily Californian.
Yiannopoulos’ opinions and words will likely do more than “upset” members of the Berkeley community. In July of 2016, Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter entirely for his use of the online platform that constituted abuse and harassment.
What do you think? Does Yiannopoulos’ presence on college campuses stand as a threat to certain lives? Or is restricting him more of a threat to civil liberties?