Staff Editorial

News outlets mislabel canceled speaker as shutdown of ideas

Has the University of Miami suppressed the right to free speech?

That was the claim made by Breitbart News when an on-campus appearance by alt-right personality Milo Yiannopoulos was cancelled last week. The right-wing news outlet and other media sources such as Fox News implied that UM faculty rejected the commentator’s campus event.

The UM College Republicans had originally reached out to Yiannopoulos’ staff to plan an appearance on Oct. 3, hoping to bring a different voice to campus that would encourage conversation.

According to the university’s statement released after the cancellation, after meeting with administration to discuss logistics for the event, “The College Republicans decided not to pursue the event.” Members of the general faculty were not involved in the meetings.

Yiannopoulos’ visits to college campuses during his infamous “Dangerous F***** Tour” have been met with heated protests. Protesters at DePaul University in Chicago covered themselves in red paint during one of his appearances, and other universities have petitioned against his appearance altogether.

Due to these past events, UM administrators required security and expected the club or the speaker himself to cover those costs, which would have been approximately $22,000.

Because the university was unable to accommodate Yiannopoulos with extra security measures, is it fair to say that UM is somehow unwelcoming of his ideas and threatened by his rhetoric?

Much of the backlash surrounding the cancellation misrepresents what really happened. Most importantly, UM College Republicans takes full responsibility for the cancellation. While one could argue that requiring costly security created a barrier to entry, the idea that this was a biased move to indirectly prevent the appearance is far-fetched.

UM has welcomed controversial speakers to campus before, including Donald Trump, whose attendance at the March GOP debate was met with heavy criticism and protests. As the student handbook states, the university is “committed to providing a forum for free and open expression of divergent points of view by campus speakers.”

Yiannopoulos’ fans are undoubtedly disappointed, but pointing fingers is a misplacement of those frustrations. Perhaps the harsh reaction is a result of a deeper dissatisfaction with UM’s left-leaning tendencies.

Unfortunately, at all institutions, factors such as resources and budget often restrict opportunities that could enhance the student experience. This concept should be a straightforward response to the event cancellation. However, it has been misconstrued by some media outlets and Yiannopoulos’ followers to paint a picture of UM that is totally inconsistent with the fundamental values of our university.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board. 

September 28, 2016

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ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “News outlets mislabel canceled speaker as shutdown of ideas”

  1. Steph U. says:

    It’s far-fetched?… Really? It’s far-fetched?

    It’s far-fetched that someone as provocative as Milo would be dealt with by this university, or nearly any university if we’re honest, by jacking the cost of hosting his discussion? Dude, you’re either naive or’ve got motives in taking the line you’re publicly taking in your opinion piece.

    It’s not far-fetched. Look at all the other universities who’ve hosted Milo on his Dangerous Faggot tour. Yes they’re been protests and disruptions, but duh. And so what? Some universities and student bodies have refused to have him but for ideological reasons, and that’s apparent when you consider all the universities that have managed to host him just fine.

    And Trump? That’s supposed to be an argument that UM is so open-minded they’re willing to host speakers who’re provocative and out of line with what’s acceptable by the people in power at the university? Nah, dude. Think about it. If it were Trump or Hillary running for president, UM would host them. If it was Hitler running for president and he was in first or second in the polls, UM would host him too. Why? It’s a presidential fucking race. That’s mega publicity for UM. There’s no negative to doing that. If Trump weren’t running for president but was saying all the stupid shit he’s been saying and then he wanted to speak at UM, UM wouldn’t host him (except knowing Trump he’d probably just bribe UM to make it happen, so it actually would happen, but I’m making a point here and it holds).

    I don’t buy that the College Republicans weren’t pressured at all to not push the issue. I don’t buy that UM’s claim of raising the cost of the event to something ridiculous was reasonable, legitimate, or was truly for any other reason that to hopefully keep Milo the hell off campus.

    If you think so, and I’m talking to however many of you on the board, you guys are naive or you’re not being genuine with what you’re printing as opinions.

    And even supposing the security cost claim is legitimate, which every sense tells me that’s ridiculous, UM should go out of their way to host such a provocative speaker who’s all the while got clout with some people like Milo. Whether it’s Milo, some libertarian-ish alt-right or whatever dude, or if it’s some Marxist dude, or whatever.

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