31 May 2016

Yiannopoulos Event and Protests Shocked Many Students

Milo's DePaul Event
Milo Yiannopoulos' now-infamous appearance at the DePaul University last 24 May 2016 was shut down early because of the loud, arrogant and discriminating protest by Black Lives Matter (BLM) radicals.

However, its aftershocks are still settling throughout the campus community as students struggle to reconcile their anger with the despicable ideologies of the very few rowdy students.

The peaceful exchange of ideas, which was cancelled after protesters took the stage about 15 minutes into an interview session with Yiannopoulos, came after weeks of tension following this week’s oil paint incident in the Quad and the so-called "chalkening" last April. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise, then, that the student body is caught between a messy jumble of opinions.

Alex Bednar, a freshman, said he joined the protest on the Quad spontaneously after reading through Yiannopoulos’ Twitter feed. He stayed with the protest group until Yiannopoulos left campus, an experience he described as being "chaotic."

For many, it’s difficult to justify shutting the event down. Sophomore Brock Pace, who was at the rally, said he likes the way Yiannopoulos pushes the boundaries of free speech — even though he doesn’t agree with most of the content of that speech – and hoped protesters would approach Yiannopoulos during the event’s designated question-and-answer session.

"I think the Q&A probably would have been moderated in a way that would skew toward Milo, but if people were going to do the whole protest thing and try to shut down the event, maybe they could have tried instead to have an actual dialogue about what he thinks," Pace said, adding that he wishes he could have confronted Yiannopoulos about some of his more controversial opinions. "He’s said some terrible things that I don’t agree with that I could have talked to him about."

Freshman Joey Traverso also said that he disagrees with the way the protest inside the rally was carried out, despite his dislike of Yiannopoulos’ message and rhetoric. He felt that by forcing the event to be cancelled, the protesters were misrepresenting the bulk of students who don’t support Yiannopoulos but still wanted to let him speak.

"The idea isn’t to silence people’s voices,” Traverso said. “Ultimately I think it’s an unfair representation of people who disagree with (Yiannopoulos’) point of views."

Other students were upset and disappointed they didn’t get the chance to hear Yiannopoulos finish his talk. Freshman Brendan Howard is a member of College Republicans, the organization that planned and fundraised the event. He said he feels like DePaul was biased against his club’s conservative viewpoints, and that the school effectively “picked a side” by allowing the rally to be cancelled.

"We expected protests. I mean, there are videos of him speaking at other schools and that always happens," Howard said. "But if that happens at other schools, security removes them. DePaul needs to stand by that and respect that this is a private event."

Howard added that he thinks DePaul should pay for the charges incurred for the event by both the College Republicans and Yiannopoulos, who reportedly paid an extra US$ 1000 in security fees.

"If we protested one of their events, we would be removed," Howard said. "And we would expect that. I think that’s a reasonable expectation."

One thing good came out of the event though. It gave Donald Trump additional supporters in his bid to become the next American President.