BY MANAGING NEWS EDITOR
AND , ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR
From Davidson, N.C. to Washington D.C., onward to New Haven, Conn. and Newark, political commentator Milo Yiannopoulos has been campaigning in college campuses all across the country, sharing his highly contentious views on the election and the current political landscape as a part of his “Dangerous Faggot” tour.
Yiannopoulos, a technology editor for conservative media outlet Breitbart News, is a self-proclaimed “free speech fundamentalist.” As a proponent of the alternative right movement, he is best known for his vocal, and often crude, criticisms of political correctness and the feminist movement. In July, after violating Twitter’s abuse policies, he was permanently banned from the site — a platform where he accrued more than 300,000 followers.
His tour, blighted with frequent allegations of offensive, if not hateful, speech and inciteful rhetoric, has provoked nationwide protest and exacerbated controversy surrounding the limitations of the First Amendment. Despite carrying this scandalous, and fittingly “dangerous”, reputation, most universities have not made any concessions to bar his arrival.
But at Villanova, a neighboring college a short 43 miles away from the university, this was not the case.
“It wasn’t until after the first presidential debate when people started getting angry about this,” Caroline Foley, co-editor in chief of Villanova’s student newspaper The Villanovan, said.
Foley said Villanova’s chapter of the College Republicans initially arranged for the speaker to give a talk on Nov. 15, further augmenting a growing catalog of tour destinations, all of which can be found on his website yiannopoulos.net.
The booking, however, was mistakenly made without the expressed approval of Villanova’s Office of Student Involvement, a factor that ultimately led to the event’s cancellation, Foley said.
The miscommunication aside, Foley maintains that, had their chapter of College Republicans properly gone through the steps to schedule Yiannopoulos, there would have been little preventative measures the university could have employed to disallow Yiannopoulos’ arrival.
When Yiannopoulos was asked to comment on his tour’s abrupt cancellation, he responded “Faggots.”
The Villanovan’s other co-editor in chief, Claire Hoffman, was not in favor of the speaker’s opinion on Black Lives Matter and feminism, prompting her disapproval of Yiannopoulos’ arrival, Foley said. Despite the tour’s dangerous rhetoric however, she maintains that she would have liked to have him speak.
“Had we talked about it a little longer, and if the club had permission, we would have ran an editorial saying it was fine for Yiannopoulos to come,” she said.
Depending on who you talk to, Foley said, reactions might vary. Liberally-minded students will say the campus is too conservative, while conservative-minded students will say the opposite, she said.
For Villanova’s College Republicans vice president Derek Fake, neither ideology reigns supreme on his campus.
“I call ’Nova the most apolitical college campus in the country,” he said. “I think a lot of the students either don’t care about politics, or aren’t the outspoken about it. We thought we could get him on campus and talk about it.”
According to Fake, while a lot of the members of the College Republicans do not appreciate Yiannopoulos, they feel that people must be presented with bad ideas if they wish to counter them.
Despite the event’s cancellation, Fake was able to assess students’ stance on Yiannopoulos’ arrival. People were, for the most part, open to the idea of Yiannopoulos coming, bringing along his set of ideas and combatting them with debate, Fake said.
Yiannopoulos sympathizes with a growing collective in the United States known as the “alt-right” movement. The movement, which is mostly online, is composed of individuals who reject mainstream Republican ideology.
NPR, in an article posted Aug 26, called the members of the movement “young white males who see themselves first and foremost as champions of their own demographic.”
In an attempt to outline the group, NPR and other media outlets such as U.S. News and World Report claim Yiannopoulos to be one of the movement’s “self-proclaimed” leaders.
In response, Yiannopoulos has championed himself with the title, proclaiming in numerous blog posts on Breitbart.com his acceptance in spearheading and spreading the movement across the country.
According to his website, Yiannopoulos will continue to stop on college campuses until early 2017. Many college campuses, however, have already seen the repercussions of his tour. DePaul and Rutgers University, for instance, both saw chaotic and disorderly protest burgeon.
Fake, and the Villanova student body, witnessed a small example of how a Yiannopoulos speech could highlight divisive political opinions on their campus. But rather than harping on the negatives, he said there is something to learn from this man and his movement.
“I think in the process of trying to create justice very rapidly, you alienate people, and they tend to lash out,” he said. “I think Yiannopoulos, and Donald Trump, are embodiments of people feeling left behind. And I think the feeling itself may be valid, but the expression of it may not be the wisest.”
The decision of the university’s College Republicans to bring Yiannopoulos’ “Dangerous Faggot” tour to Delaware was finalized on Sept. 22 despite both student-led and administrative opposition to it.
“I have busted my ass for four years to help the LGBT community feel like they have a home in the Republican Party,” former executive director and current strategist for the Delaware Republican Party John Fluharty said. “Performers like Milo hurt my ability to do that.”
Yiannopoulos’ tour has also been recently cancelled at both the University of Miami and Florida Atlantic University due to unspecified “security concerns” and death threats that were deemed credible by the FBI, respectively.
Yiannopoulos will speak at Mitchell Hall on Oct. 24 from 6 to 9 p.m.