On January 13, 2017 an event was held by the Davis College Republicans which featured Milo Yiannopoulos from Breitbart News, known for inflammatory far-right political and social stances, and Martin Shkreli, a contentious hedge fund manager. Since the creation of the event, there has been much opposition to these men speaking or coming on campus in light of their often vicious and controversial comments.
On the day of the event, an email was sent out by Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter regarding the school's and his personal views on the event:
Part of this email reads:
"Our position on objectionable speech in general is consonant with the following statement by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on “racist, sexist and homophobic” utterances:
'Where racist, sexist and homophobic speech is concerned, the ACLU believes that more speech—not less—is the best revenge. This is particularly true at universities, whose mission is to facilitate learning through open debate and study, and to enlighten. When hate is out in the open, people can see the problem. Then they can organize effectively to counter bad attitudes, possibly change them, and forge solidarity against the forces of intolerance.'
To this, let me add my personal belief that a university is at its best, is most true to itself, and makes proper use of its unique intellectual resources when it listens to and critically engages opposing views, especially ones that many of us find upsetting or even offensive."
Though this stance that all perspectives should be allowed to be heard had been brought up for weeks before, many still felt that Yiannopoulos should not be welcomed to a campus which strives for beliefs so different than those of the speakers. Protesters gathered approximately two hours prior to the 7:30 P.M. event.
The protest was captured on film by UC Davis Freshman Alex Fisher-Wagner:
The event was ultimately cancelled about thirty minutes before it was scheduled to begin due to safety concerns. Later, a statement was released about the cancellation. By the end, there were no reports of property damage, though one person was arrested.
Interim Chancellor Hexter had this to say regarding the events which transpired:
“I am deeply disappointed with the events of this evening. Our community is founded on principles of respect for all views, even those that we personally find repellent. As I have stated repeatedly, a university is at its best when it listens to and critically engages opposing views, especially ones that many of us find upsetting or even offensive.”
Since the protest, there have been many debates about the protest with some saying it was overly violent and stunted free speech. Others argue that people who so openly speak against the wellness and safety of groups represented so fully on the UC Davis campus should not have been welcomed at all.
Lead Image: Alex Fisher-Wagner.