Grad student launches petition to ban Milo from CU-Boulder
A petition has been launched to prevent conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking at the University of Colorado Boulder in January.
The petition calls upon school Chancellor Philip DiStefano to “revoke the invitation for Yiannopolus to speak at CU Boulder” and urges him to “stand up to bullying and hateful rhetoric.”
“To deny [Milo] the privilege of speaking at our esteemed university is not to infringe on his (or anyone’s) freedom of speech. And deny him the privilege of speaking at our university is exactly what we ought to do,” the petition reads.
It garnered over 1,500 signatures in two weeks.
Charles Wofford, a graduate student of music at CU-Boulder, told Campus Reform in an interview that he was inspired to create the petition after realizing that if Milo comes to campus, “He’s just gonna bring trouble.”
Wofford expressed concern over the students’ safety, citing Milo’s “racist, sexist and transphobic language,” his articles for Breitbart, and an alleged uptick in hate crimes on campuses that Milo has visited in the past.
“When Milo shows up…. and when other people associated with the alt-right movement show up, there’s a surge in reports of sexual harassment, harassment of people of color, you’ll even see swastikas painted on walls,” he told Campus Reform.
“He’s bringing actual violence,” Wofford alleged. He declined to cite any data illustrating that Milo actually increases violence on campus.
During his speech, Milo projected an image of Adelaide Karen Kramer, a UW-Milwaukee student who is transgender, onto the screen. Milo then accused Kramer of not trying hard enough to “pass” as female.
Kramer was in the audience that night and was reportedly devastated. Shortly after, she penned an eight page letter to her peers condemning the UW-Milwaukee administration for letting Milo speak on campus.
“Free speech does not cover harassment,” Kramer wrote.
Charles Wofford, the petition organizer, wants the campus to be a safe space for students.
“It is, I think, the university's responsibility to defend its students from being literally attacked, and physical harm isn't the only kind of harm out there. The university ought to be a safe space to learn and be who you are without fear of reprisal,” he said.
Wofford explained that he’s “not a censorious person,” but rather that he was motivated to start the petition because he believes the administration shouldn’t be giving Milo a platform to spread his message.
Other petitions that have tried to get Milo banned have suggested that Milo “kills” people with his words, while others have claimed that the “perils” of “inadvertently” seeing Milo are far too great.
According to FIRE’s online Disinvitation Database, which catalogues attempts to block speakers on campus, there were at least five attempts to get Milo banned from American campuses this year. At least three of those attempts were successful.
Students who have failed to ban Milo from campus have often hosted counter-events, such as at Miami University (Ohio), where students created “human sized flowers” to decorate the campus student center. Or at Ohio U, which hosted a “Pride Pachanga” to “celebrate culture and diversity” when Milo visited.
Chancellor Philip DiStefano did not respond to a request for comment on the petition.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen