By Christopher Mateo
The College Republicans chapter at CSU Bakersfield is endorsing a controversial speaker to give a talk at CSUB on Oct. 25, 2017.
The event has been scheduled on the CSUB events calendar, 25Live. The description states the speaker is controversial and the identity of the speaker will be kept a secret due to privacy concerns.
CSUB President Horace Mitchell said, “I do know who it is, but it is not a done deal so I will not mention any names.”
According to the events calendar, “due to privacy concerns, the name will only be revealed to relevant administration. It is an event open to all students and residents of Bakersfield, as well as students from other Central Valley schools, and will touch on controversial political topics. There will be no food or drink served, and there will be ample security as a precautionary measure to ensure campus and student safety.”
Although the event has been put on the events calendar some administrators say it is only a reservation and nothing has been confirmed.
“There has only been talk, there is nothing firm, there is no contract,” said Director of Public Affairs and Communication Michael Lukens.
Although there is a privacy concern, CSUB will allow the controversial speaker to speak.
“There is no contract with any speaker at this point. We support free speech, so when we are inviting speakers to campus we are supporting free speech, and obviously, safety is something we always look at,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jenny Zorn.
Adviser to the College Republicans and Management and Marketing assistant professor Jeremy Woods, stated in an email “No comment.”
One student listed as a member of the College Republicans, Spencer Cordova, was contacted but has not responded.
Despite trying to keep the identity of the speaker hidden, there has been talk about the event on social media.
Lecturer for the music department James Scully posted on Facebook Saturday, “Rumors that Milo Yiannopoulos will be speaking at CSUB next month…ugh. [Update: confirmed].”
According to Scully, a friend who knows someone from the Academic Senate
revealed the identity of the speaker. Scully said he can only confirm through what he has heard and seen on his Facebook comments that it is Yiannopoulos but not that the event has been confirmed.
After Scully posted this on Facebook, someone who appeared to be Milo Yiannopoulos commented, “Can’t wait.” When the profile is clicked, it does open Yiannopoulos’ official Facebook page. An email was sent to Yiannopoulos’ public relations team to confirm the comment made was from his legitimate profile, but there has been no response.
Scully said this comment has reassured him Yiannopoulos is set to come to CSUB.
Scully has a history of knowing what booking a special guest to come to CSUB takes, because he helps with booking acts for the annual Jazz Festival.
“As someone with experience booking people for the Jazz Festival, it would not be on 25Live if it wasn’t being planned,” said Scully.
Scully does not think that he is coming for the right reasons, but rather for shock value.
Yiannopoulos is a conservative 32-year-old writer and public speaker. Yiannopoulos is notorious for speaking against feminism. He mostly speaks at colleges where he is often met with protests, due to his conservative views. He recently has made headlines after a video surfaced of him condoning sexual relations between a man and boys as young as 13 years old. He lost a book deal and was fired from Breitbart, a far-right American news network.
UC Berkeley students and faculty are calling a boycott on attending classes from Sep. 24 to Sept. 27. During these dates, Yiannopoulos and other speakers are due to speak as part of the “Free Speech Week” festival.
When Yiannopoulos spoke at Berkeley on Feb. 1 he was met with a riot. Protesters rallied at CSU Cal Poly to stand against Yiannopoulos.
According to the Tribune, a protester burned a confederate flag as law enforcement and a quiet crowd watched.
Some students are interested in what he has to say and are curious to see how CSUB responds.
“In an educational point of view we would like to see different views, but there will be a lot of discussion on what he has to say. There would also be a lot of discussion on why he should be here,” said sophomore business major Monica Aguilar.
Senior economics major Nicholas Cortez said, “Since this school has such a diverse population of students there will be many point of views. Since we don’t have many controversial speakers coming to campus it will be interesting to see the reactions.”
“I think he is a provocateur more than anything. His views are more than controversial and his methods, outing LGBTQ students for instance, aren’t aligned with the mission of our institution. While I believe free speech is vital to our democracy, I also believe that threatening the safety of our students by singling them out for their differences in a fairly intolerant part of the state, blows past the line of protected speech into the realm of hate speech,” said Scully.
Sonia Lemus and Paul Lopez contributed to this report.