Letter to the Editor: Chancellor DiStefano, Milo Yiannopoulos should not speak

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Editor’s Note: This letter has been edited to adhere to the CU Independent’s grammar and fact-checking standards. Some clarifications have been made in accordance with the writer.

Dear Chancellor Philip DiStefano,

I am a proud alumnus of the University of Colorado Boulder, and I brag about my alma mater and home state any chance I get. I received a world-class education at CU Boulder, and could not be prouder to call myself a Buffalo. Boulder will always have a special place in my heart.

However, I am shocked and saddened that the university’s administration has scheduled a speaking date for Breitbart News writer and alt-right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos on campus on Jan. 25. At first, while extremely disappointed at this decision, I was of the opinion that the university should not cancel this event due to negative publicity. However, given Yiannopoulos’s recent actions at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I have no choice but to write you and demand that you cancel his speaking date immediately.

While speaking at UW-Milwaukee on Dec. 13, Yiannopoulos openly harassed and bullied a student at the school in front of her peers, while she was in attendance. Although he likely did not know she was there, Yiannopoulos used her name, displayed her picture and said hateful and disgusting remarks about her. He gleefully endangered her to attack and abuse by her peers in and the online neo-Nazi hate machine run by Breitbart News, who was live streaming the speech.

Not only did UW-Milwaukee put her in danger, but they put every single one of their LGBT, non-white, religious minority and disabled students at risk for this treatment. The harassed student reportedly had already withdrawn from the university in October and was in the process of transferring to a different school, but said she still attended the speech. If every single one of those students left the school as well, what kind of university would be left?

After the event, Mark Mone, chancellor of UW-Milwaukee, sent an email to the campus community saying he was “disappointed that this speaker chose to attack a transgender student” and that he would “not stand silently by when a member of our campus community is personally and wrongly attacked.”

Chancellor DiStefano, he did stand silently by as Milwaukee students warned him of the kind of hate Yiannopoulos peddles. He did nothing. He abdicated his responsibility as chancellor of that university, and should resign. Please do not make the same mistake. Yiannopoulos did this despicable act, and could do it again to a CU student. If you do not cancel this event, you and the entire administration would be responsible for that attack.

If you do not cancel this event, I will never donate money to the University of Colorado Boulder so long as the current administration is in place. If you do not cancel this event, I will urge all of my fellow alumni to do the same. If you do not cancel this event, you tarnish the name and reputation of CU Boulder, and the entire Buffalo family. If you do not cancel this event, you will make the Colorado Creed into empty words.

Please, Chancellor DiStefano, do the right thing. Do your duty. Protect your students. Withdraw Yiannopoulos’s speaking invitation.


Benjamin Bellman
University of Colorado Boulder, Class of 2014
Providence, Rhode Island

CU Independent

The CU Independent, or CUI for short, is the student news outlet for the University of Colorado at Boulder. We cover news, sports, politics, opinion, arts and entertainment and more. Our mission is to provide news and commentary that's for students and by students — about the things we care about.

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