Rutgers students hold forum to share feelings after visit from 'Most Dangerous Faggot'
Student groups at Rutgers held a forum Monday evening to share their feelings about how Milo Yiannopoulos’ recent “Most Dangerous Faggot” visit scared, hurt, and made them feel discriminated against.
Representatives from the Rutgers Police Department, Bias Prevention and Education Committee, Black Student Union, Office of Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance, and others were present to give support and to answer questions about freedom of speech, hate speech, and social media regulations from students and faculty.
“We are here to show support,” each representative said as they introduced themselves, reports The Daily Targum.
Melissa James, a Rutgers student, claimed she had trouble getting into the building for Yiannopoulos’ event and that security wouldn’t let her in based off of her appearance.
“If you're promoting free speech, you should allow people with different opinions to come into the debate,” said James, who also called the event hate speech.
“There was no hate speech or discrimination by Milo or our organization. Differing opinions are not hate speech,” Aviv Khavich, one of the event’s organizers, told Campus Reform.
James said that Yiannopoulos asked the crowd during the event if they thought black lives mattered and that when people raised their hands he told them to get out.
However, the full video of the event shows Yiannopoulos asking if anyone hates him and then joking, “This is an event for sevens and above, so if anyone raised their hand, please leave. If you’re from one of the feminist groups on campus, I’ve put an ice cream truck outside.”
“As a sexual assault survivor, that hurt me, I broke down crying after I left,” James said regarding Yiannopoulos’ comments toward feminists and the rape culture.
James continued on to say she was scared to walk around campus the day after the event, to which many of the other students and faculty agreed.
“If you feel unsafe or break down in tears when people question your ideological myths, like ‘rape culture’ and the ‘wage gap’, you need to reassess whether you belong in university at all,” Khavich told Campus Reform.
After the event, Rutgers Chancellor Richard Edwards, wrote an email to students saying there has been a lack of civility and respect from students debating whether Yiannopoulos should have been invited in the first place.
"After speaking with many students this week who attended the event, I have been reaffirmed in my conviction that we need not, indeed must not, choose between freedom of expression and inclusion,” Edwards said.
James said the email didn’t address the issues and that the university doesn’t care about her mental health.
“Everyone in this room deserves an apology,” James said.
Dianne Techwei also said she felt frustrated because people were clapping about things that weren’t true.
“[Yiannopoulos] said it is in black people's nature to be angry. I am not an angry person. It was revealing to see people who already had these thoughts. He was just there to confirm it,” Techwei said.
Jannah Handy, the director for Intercultural Initiatives in the Office of Student Affairs, told those in attendance, “The whole point of the forum is for student to have recourses, namely the bias reporting process.”
“I have no sympathy for protesters that are surprised that they weren't met with overjoyed gratitude after their poor show of childish disruption and petulant whining,” Khavich told Campus Reform.
Following the forum, attendees were encouraged to express in one word how they felt; “impressed,” “hopeful,” “inspired,” and “determined,” were some of the words said.
Yiannopoulos’ tour continued on Wednesday at the University of Minnesota where protesters blew air horns and tried to drown out his speech. He told attendees that he relishes the controversy and described it as, “hundreds of thousands of dollars of free advertising.”
“It’s enormously good fun,” said Yiannopoulos after the protesters were escorted out of the auditorium. “All of the very worst people in the world get triggered by the mere mention of my name.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @brianledtke