UC Davis saw one of the biggest political showdown in years. With noisy chants and protest signs, in last week, hundreds of activists and students turned out shutting down ultimately the planned talk of provocative conservative Milo Yiannopoulos. As the preparation of Donald Trump goes on for inauguration as Nation’s 45th President on Friday, officials and university students brace for an escalation of political clashes in campus and their presentation of sticky free-speech issues. As an element of his national ‘Dangerous faggot’ tour, Yiannopoulos, scheduled to speak at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UC Berkeley and UCLA over the upcoming three weeks, may be radical for the moment but officials of university believe that election of Trump has fortified more voices like his.
Ralph J. Hexter, Interim Chancellor of UC Davis said that he worries about outside groups using college campuses for staging conflicts intended towards national stage and is struggling for protecting open speech against that field of landmines. The question raised by campus officials is what universities should do about it. The UC system resisted calls regarding cancellation of Yiannopoulos talks. Janet Napolitano, UC President and Board of Regents’ advocacy of tackling offensive speech by ‘more speech’ instead of censorship was included in the ‘Principles Against Intolerance’ which UC Regents approved last year as 10 campus system’s guidelines. To those urging ban on Yiannopoulos, a similar approach is being counselled by campus administrators. Demanding to bar Yiannopoulos, on February 1st, from speaking hundreds of letters from students, faculty and others have been received by administrators, at UC Berkeley, one of them saying that his talks violated code of conduct of UC Berkeley due to his actions of defamation, slander, harassment and hate speech.
Associate Chancellor, Nils Gilman, said that they would be safeguarding Yiannopoulos’ right for speech like they would do for anyone else. He also said that university officials will be serving as ‘referees who will to maintain a level playing field’ while accommodating Yiannopoulos. At UC Davis, by Sunday, things seemed to be settled down. Studying at an outdoor table, three students said that they monitored protests on social media but did not participate in it.