In an effort to “come to the table,” to quote Ryan Ansloan, (former) president of UNM College Republicans, and the part of the group of individuals responsible for inviting Milo Yiannopoulous to campus on January 27th, we would like to openly address a few points.
To begin with, we would like to address his “come to the table” comment. Where were the College Republicans last December when six different student organizations invited them to discuss safety concerns about Milo speaking? They ghosted us. Where were the College Republicans when Acting President Chaouki T. Abdallah invited students, staff and faculty to have a dialogue about the event last week? Not a single College Republican showed up.
While the College Republicans seem to have no boundary for accusing our coalition of student organizations for not allowing open dialogue, they have repeatedly initiated cowardly media interviews without ever looking us in the eye, including calling out every student organization in a Facebook post earlier this week.
And perhaps this is tactical, because if they had to look us in the eye, they would have to see us — the students who are most affected by the hateful rhetoric that Milo preaches on his webpage and through his presence on college campuses.
We are the Muslims who will be demonized in his “free speech.”
We are the women who will be denigrated in his “free speech.”
We are the queer and trans students who will be dehumanized in his “free speech.”
We are the immigrants who will be stepped-on in his “free speech.”
We are the people of color who will be harassed in his “free speech.”
We are the people who will be terrorized in his “free speech,” and continue to be terrorized after he is gone.
Milo’s rhetoric, which dehumanizes and degrades our already marginalized communities, invokes violence. And, by bringing his message here to our campus, the College Republicans are perpetrating that violence.
Let us clarify ourselves here and now. We vowed to “protect students from fascism and violence,” but we did not plan the protest or threaten to use violence. Perhaps the College Republicans should have tried a simple Google search because while Red Nation signed in support of our statement, they are not a student organization and we did not co-sponsor their protest. It takes a simple glance at the Facebook event to see that none of our organizations have their name on it. However, if members from our organization participate, that is their right, but we are not advocating for violence.
Apparently, none of the College Republicans can fact check — a trait they share with President Trump and Breitbart news. Otherwise, they would also know that we are not a “leftist group,” we are multiple separate entities who came together in the face of discrimination from a group of students who believe it is their right to have someone blatantly harass and terrorize us on stage at our campus.
The recent shooting at University of Washington at a Milo event demonstrates how his hateful rhetoric leads to violence and bodily harm. If the College Republicans truly cared to about the welfare of the student body, they would cancel the event.
We would also like to address the accusation that we are impeding First Amendment Rights. Legally, your First Amendment Rights cannot be violated by an individual, and only Congress, Federal and state entities can violate freedom of speech. Therefore, any vocal action that counteracts Milo or College Republicans is not a violation of free speech. We agree that the nation state should not violate our freedom of speech, however, it is our right to be heard in public and by the public without the silencing of our voices. As UNM is a publically funded university, the campus is included in this public area for which our right to be heard is in.
We have engaged with the University about the issue of violence and discriminatory speech, and we are not advocating that the University hinder freedom of speech, but that the University follow its own policies. UNM administration Policy 2720, The Equal Opportunity, Non-Discrimination, and Affirmative action Policy (Regents Policy Manual Section 2.3) “forbids unlawful discrimination and/or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, physical or mental disability, age, sexual orientation or gender identity, ancestry, spousal affiliation, medical condition or veteran status”.
The policy gives an example of harassment as “unwelcome jokes or comments about a protected characteristic." Milo Yiannopoulos, as stated in our last statement, has a history of mocking and harassing students on campus, such as the case of University of Washington when Milo mocked a trans student.
To paraphrase Acting President Abdallah during the public meeting with students and administration, he said their goal was to be sure that UNM policy is followed. Since this statement was made by the president, we ask that UNM follows its own policy in the event that Milo targets an individual student, and stop the event.
We will not argue for our right to exist. It is neither academic nor educational. But, we welcome a round table discussion with the College Republicans because that is the true core of the academic setting, not bringing hate speech onto our campus. Therefore, if they wish to sit down and talk all they have to do is ask.
We vowed to protect students from fascism and violence, and that is exactly what we are doing and will continue to do—with our voices.
KIVA Club, MEChA de UNM, Muslim Student Association (MSA), Queer Student Alliance
(QSA), Black Student Union (BSU), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), UNM Dream Team