Radical progressives refuse to abandon their efforts to silence Breitbart senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos when he makes his way to California Polytechnic State University on January 31, 2017.
SLO Solidarity, a group of radical progressive students who joined forces in protest of the Cal Poly College Republicans’ Free Speech Wall last year, has been clamoring for a way to shut down the speaking event, and initially tried to pressure the administration to cancel the event.
In response, Cal Poly released a statement through its Public Affairs office Monday, saying, “Cal Poly’s campus is an open environment where opinions, ideas and thoughts are freely shared — even those that some may find distasteful and offensive. Censoring viewpoints that we don’t agree with violates free speech and does not represent what we stand for as a university. Rather, free speech and the open exchange of ideas and opinions — even those that conflict with our own — is an important part of student growth and preparation for success in today’s global marketplace.”
As evident in their closed Facebook group, SLO Solidarity was foaming at the mouth over this response, and looking for alternative ways to silence Milo. The latest idea came Thursday from a crafty, yet uninformed, member of the student group.
SLO Solidarity member Heidi Peterson started a Change.org petition asking President Armstrong and Cal Poly to change the format of Yiannopoulos’s speaking event “from an uncontested speech to that of a panel discussion.” As of Saturday morning, the petition had received 400 signatures.
The petition argues that “[t]he precedent for such a format change was set in 2009 when Cal Poly President Warren Baker, at the request of Cal Poly donor David E. Wood, chairman of Harris Ranch Beef, required this same change of format for speaker Michael Pollan, a respected author and the recipient of numerous environmental awards.”
The Michael Pollan event was actually a fundraiser for Cal Poly’s Sustainable Agriculture Research Consortium (SARC) and Pollan’s speaking fee was $20,000. Also, Cal Poly risked losing a $500,000 gift from a generous supporter (Harris Ranch) if they didn’t change the format.
Cal Poly has been on pins and needles over the issue of free speech ever since student Steve Hinkle sued Cal Poly for suppressing his free speech rights back in 2003. After a long, drawn out court case, the university finally settled to the tune of $40,000.
While Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong condemned “micro aggressions, unconscious bias, and offensive comments” that were written on the Cal Poly College Republicans’ Free Speech Wall in November, and remained silent when the wall was vandalized, the administration did nothing to close down the display and was careful to call out the student body’s right to free speech.
While the university likely will not cancel the event, administration officials are looking for any solution to muffle Milo’s free speech and detract from his overall impact, and this could be an easy way for them to cave.
Asked whether he thought progressives at Cal Poly would succeed in their efforts to shut him up, Milo said: