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.