Student petitions against Milo Yiannopoulos event gather more than 1,700 signatures

This story has been updated to reflect new information.

In response to CU Boulder’s decision to host alt-right conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, CU students have started three petitions that will be delivered to Chancellor Philip DiStefano. The chancellor, who responded to student concerns a day after the event was announced, did not given further comment on the petitions specifically.

The petition with the most responses was created by student Charles Wofford and currently has 1,437 signatures. Wofford is asking the chancellor to uninvite Yiannopoulos from the Boulder campus. The petition’s description calls Yiannopoulos, who has written and edited for alt-right outlet Breitbart News, “a racist, sexist, reactionary opportunist.”

“I hope the chancellor will realize that Yiannopoulos’ presence is a threat to student safety and cancel the event,” Wofford said in an email interview with the CU Independent.
 
The second petition currently has 332 signatures. Student Michael Pence created the petition to remove the event from the campus. In the description, Pence listed some of Yiannopoulos’ articles and said they’re “hate speech.” The alt-right as a political movement has been defined by racism, white nationalism and populism.
 
The third petition — a Google form that doesn’t show signature counts — asks that the university co-sponsor an event on campus that will be held at the same time as the Yiannopoulos talk. It is addressed to DiStefano as well as University of Colorado President Bruce Benson.
 
“If [CU’s] offices are truly committed to to championing free speech on campus, then inviting a speaker who encourages the inhibition of student speech and identity expressions is at diametric odds with that commitment,” the description said.
 
Yiannopoulos is scheduled to speak on campus Jan. 25. The CU College Republicans and the CU chapter of Turning Point USA, a conservative activist group, organized the talk.
 
The university announced the Yiannopoulos event on Nov. 30. The next day, the chancellor responded to concerns about the talk he received through social media and in letters to his office.
 
“I believe that discrimination and harassment have no place on our campus,” DiStefano said in a column emailed to students. “As the chancellor, it is also my duty to uphold our dedication to free expression of viewpoints on the campus.
 
The CU Independent reached out to the chancellor Monday about the petitions. DiStefano did not have any additional comments.
 
Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter in July for inciting racist comments against actor Leslie Jones, and his events at New York University and University of Miami were canceled this year. DePaul University denied him a request to hold a second event after his talk in May contributed to a “hostile environment,” a university spokesperson said.
 
The third CU petition mentioned the situation at Texas A&M University, when the school allowed white supremacist Richard Spencer to speak but organized a separate event on the same night Dec. 6. The crowd for that event drew more than 1,000, according to the Houston Chronicle.
 
Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Jake Mauff at jacob.mauff@colorado.edu.
Jake Mauff

Jake Mauff is the Editor-in-Chief and staff writer for the CU Independent. He enjoys biking, hiking and running in what little free time that he has, and he has interviewed a variety of interesting people including a presidential candidate. You can follow him on Twitter at @jake_mauff.

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