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In response to Milo mayhem, University of Washington president knocks it out of the park

Who knows how long it will last, but for now, University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce gets it.

She continues to refuse to apologize for letting anti-feminist provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos speak on campus, even after someone got shot outside his event in the chaos of riots led by Seattle Antifa.

This is despite having maybe one thing in common with Milo: They are both gay immigrants.

In an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education, Cauce warned against trying to make public universities “gated communities” where students are sheltered from ideas like Milo’s, because it’s a losing effort:

I think the most important thing that we need to do is to double down on our mission and provide students with the strong analytic tools they need to be able to do critical analysis. How do we model for our students how to have discourse that sheds light, not heat?

UW also tried to clamp down on offensive student speech in the 1970s, Cauce said. The student government wanted to distribute a pamphlet on contraception and STDs, which the administration denounced as pornographic: “That’s the other side of why we need to be careful about free speech.”

She does an excellent job of seeing the shoe on the other foot – and putting protests in context:

[O]ne of the reasons why we let Yiannopoulos go on is that how can you shut him down and not shut down a Black Lives Matter protest? …

Look, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Folks need to think about how to use their energy and how to be strategic. What strategy do you want to use in what situation? The reason why I believed that he was not the most strategic thing to protest is that that’s what he feeds off, that’s what he makes money off.

And maybe Cauce’s best line:

Think about it for a second. If there had been no protest, what you’d see is a line of mostly white men, who might be described by some as “macho,” standing in line for hours to see a gay man in a boa in essence perform camp.

The threat of violent protest didn’t faze Cauce because officials prepared the best they could, bringing in hundreds of police officers who have been through lots of protests in radical-heavy Seattle:

We have something like 50,000 students on our campus, and I don’t know how many employees. We’re a small city. And if you look at us as a small city, this is an incredibly safe place.

But she’s not going to give students soothing and ultimately empty words like some cowardly, sycophantic university presidents:

Perhaps rightly so, they attribute an awful lot of power to this position and to this university. …

I think there are people who really want me to promise that I can keep them safe. I can’t make that promise.

A clinical psychologist who has taught classes on stress and coping, Cauce encourages students to do positive things because it’s a better way to cope than obsessing over what’s wrong.

It’s quite a turnaround for a president who was taking potshots at the few openly declared supporters of then-candidate Donald Trump on campus last year.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg Piper served as associate editor of The College Fix from 2014 to 2021.