"We hate the message but we have to protect free speech' - UNM Interim President Chaouki T. Abdallah
Students Voice Concerns over Message of Hate
BY JOHNNY VIZCAINO
A week ahead of Milo Yiannopoulos’ visit to campus, UNM administrators face the challenge of protecting free speech while protecting the sensitivities of its minority students.
Following a “statement of concern” sent to administrators, a meeting was held on Jan. 18 among Acting President Chaouki Abdallah, other administrative officials, and representatives of several minority student organizations.
Yiannopoulos, an alt-right blogger and columnist with Breitbart News, has been called a white supremacist. He’s written pieces titled “10 things Milo Hates About Islam” and “Trannies Are Gay.” Yiannopoulos is a vocal critic of feminism, Islam, social justice and political correctness.
“We hate the message but we have to protect free speech,” Abdallah said, adding that the best thing that could happen would be for nobody to show up.
“We hate the message, but we are a free speech campus,” Associate Provost Virginia Scharff told the students at the meeting.
Student organizations want Abdallah to hold a news conference and publicly condemn the Yiannopoulos event. The protesting student groups requested a police escort for Yiannopoulos.
In response to some student organizations threatening to “take the mic” away from Yiannopoulos, UNM police will tolerate no disruptions, Scharffe said.
“There’s a dimension of cruelty to his approach that I find unacceptable,” she said. “In the wake of the recent presidential election we’ve had some hate incidents on our campus and this is something that I think concerns us all.”
“We’re in academia, we should be academically challenged to a point where we can engage and further ourselves intellectually and academically,” said Joshua Heckman of MeCHA, a chicano student group.
Students said they are more concerned with the aftermath of the event rather than the event itself, possibly by acts of violence by students who are “emboldened by Milo’s talks.”
Featured image caption: Jozi DeLeon, director of the UNM Office of Equity and Inclusion addresses student representatives during a meeting with acting President Chaouki Abdallah.