‘Regardless of what you do, Milo is going to come back this fall. We will not be silenced. Reverse this decision, or you’ll be hearing from our lawyers’
At UC Irvine, being conservative is akin to a hate crime, according to campus leaders. How do I know? Because I’m on the receiving end of it. My beliefs are not only not tolerated on campus, but actively stifled and censored.
As Vice-President of the UC Irvine College Republicans, I’ve had my fair share of difficulties dealing with the bureaucracy of the UC Irvine administration. UC Irvine has a horrendous record of protecting conservative students, from denying equal funding to actively working to prevent conservative speakers from having their voices heard.
But it was only after we brought in Milo Yiannopolous, a gay conservative speaker, that they revealed just how far they are willing to go to shut us up.
We were immediately slandered by Douglas Haynes, vice provost for academic equity, diversity and inclusion, as “homophobic” and “hateful” in an email to over 30,000 UC Irvine students and faculty. We had posters ripped down and thrown away, while administration stood by and did nothing. We requested $1,250 to provide security for the event, and received a paltry $181, all while radical leftist groups like the Muslim Student Union receive more than $10,000 per year of your tax dollars.
Despite the failed attempts by administration to hinder our June 2 event, we had more than 1,000 people show up to finally hear a conservative perspective on campus.
I had the pleasure of introducing Milo, and took the time to personally call out the bullying and anti-free speech efforts perpetuated by this administration. This was the biggest conservative event on campus in years, and administrators finally had to accept it. Their attempt to fine us $1,000 earlier that day was rescinded after we complained. We enjoyed Milo’s talk as a victory for free speech and a blow to the political correctness that imprisons this campus. (Pictured: Milo Yiannopolous and Peter Van Voorhis)
Little did we know that though we might have won the battle, the war raged on.
Three weeks after the event, we informed administrators of our plans to bring Milo back this fall to an even bigger audience. Within hours, we received an email informing us that we had essentially been banned from campus for an entire year.
Campus officials say we are not suspended, only barred from renting rooms, but we are banned from renting everything from the biggest hall to the smallest classroom. For a group whose sole purpose is to hold meetings and events, this is tantamount to a suspension, despite the administration’s rhetoric.
Officials claim we did not provide proof of insurance for the private security firm protecting Milo. But that’s smoke and mirrors. We were never informed of this requirement prior to our event. What’s more, it is a rule not enforced at our previous events.
Prior to Milo’s visit, the UCI College Republicans and our attorneys met with UCI’s attorney, the police lieutenant in charge, and two administrators. We made it very clear several times that we were going to bring in additional security and we got the all clear from the police with no objection from the administrators or the campus lawyer. Only now they say we broke the rules.
But consider this: UCI College Republicans hosted Jewish-conservative pundit David Horowitz earlier in the spring quarter, and Horowitz required private security, but our club was never asked to provide an insurance certificate, nor was the club penalized for not having provided one.
Here’s the bottom line: It doesn’t matter if you’re conservative, liberal, or somewhere in between. Any person who believes in freedom of speech should be irate that a publicly funded university would work day and night to censor a point of view that they consider unworthy. This is an academic witch hunt against conservative students, and we will not back down.
Chancellor Howard Gillman, stop sending your crony administrators to slander, defund and shut down conservatives. If you truly believe in an inclusive environment for all students, then take the time to promote an atmosphere of intellectual diversity. Only then can you truly claim that you represent a diverse group of students.
We have several attorneys on stand by ready to take necessary legal action, and if campus leaders choose not to reverse their decision we will take legal action. Regardless of what you do, Milo is going to come back this fall. We will not be silenced. Reverse this decision, or you’ll be hearing from our lawyers.
Meanwhile, please email Chancellor Gillman and let him know your beliefs on free speech: [email protected]
Peter Van Voorhis is Vice-President of UC Irvine College Republicans and a California Republican Party Delegate.