As the visit of controversial Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos looms ever nearer, local opposition to his arrival and speaking event is ramping up.
A slew of UNM student groups have placed their names on a letter sent to University administration earlier this week condemning the upcoming event to be held Jan. 27 in the SUB, calling it a contradiction of UNM policy.
The letter alleges that Yiannopoulos’ talk will lead to “physical violence and expand bias against us,” referring to undocumented students, indigenous students, Muslims, LGBTQ and other minority members of the UNM community whose concerns are raised in the letter.
It specifically refers to a section of UNM policy about visiting speakers, which states that their messages must have “educational value.” Citing particularly controversial actions by Yiannopoulos from the past, the groups represented in the letter claim that he does not do so, but instead spreads “hate speech that continues to terrorize students.”
It also claims that Yiannopoulos’ rhetoric is especially derogatory towards Muslims, the LGBTQ community, the mentally ill and the indigenous. The letter specifically cites an instance in which Yiannopoulos “personally attacked” individual transgender students at a University of Wisconsin event in December.
Similar rhetoric during his visit to UNM next week, especially if directed at a particular student or students, could potentially be interpreted as sexual harassment and a Title IX violation by the University. Such a violation could lead to a cut in federal funds for UNM.
The letter goes on to say that “we...will do everything in our power to protect students from fascism and violence.”
The groups represented in the letter are KIVA Club, MEChA, Black Student Union, Queer Student Alliance, Muslim Student Association, Dream Team, the Red Nation and Showing Up for Racial Justice. The statement also serves as a precursor to a meeting that leaders of some of these groups will have with UNM administrators on Thursday concerning the visit.
The letter adds fuel to a blaze whose sparks have been glimpsed at other university campuses nationwide. His visits to other institutions have already been met with opposition, and previous engagements at UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara have been cancelled after protests.
Local groups are hoping the same happens at the University of New Mexico, as the Red Nation is planning a protest to shut down the event by “taking the room, the stage and the mic,” according to the protest’s Facebook page.
Yiannopoulos’ visit to UNM is part of his “Dangerous Faggot” tour, and he is being officially hosted by UNM College Republicans. Group leaders say that their hope for the visit is the opening of new and necessary avenues for discussion.
“In all the years that I’ve been here, I’ve been involved in student groups and we’ve tried to conduct ourselves civilly and politely and have good discussions with people while also recognizing that there’s a line that can’t be crossed,” Ryan Ansloan, president of UNM College Republicans last semester, told the Daily Lobo in December. “So often the other side just hasn’t been willing to come to that table.”
David Lynch is the editor-in-chief at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.