In the aftermath of an aborted fake news panel discussion, the Cal Poly College Republican will host a new fake news panel later this month that will feature the return of controversial political commentator Milo Yiannopoulos to Cal Poly. [KSBY]
In February, Cal Poly was scheduled to host an event called “Fake News Panel: What is it and who decides?” However, following the announcement of the panelists, uproar ensued over the participant selected by the College Republicans, political commentator Bill Whittle.
Student activists and local media accused Whittle of being a racist, prompting a combination of panelists and sponsors of the event to pull out. The panel discussion was then canceled.
Recently, the College Republicans decided to assemble a new fake news panel. Unlike the canceled event, the new panel will reportedly consist only of conservatives and it will be sponsored by the College Republicans and the conservative nonprofit Turning Point USA, rather than a variety of organizations and stakeholders.
The new panel reportedly includes Yiannopoulos; Blair White, a conservative transgender YouTuber; Austen Fletcher, a conservative activist-journalist and YouTuber; and Carl Benjamin, a YouTuber known as Sargon of Akkad.
Yiannopoulos previously appeared on the Cal Poly campus in January 2017 to deliver a speech titled “No More Dead Babies.” In the lead up to the speech, protest groups tried for weeks to shut down the event and stop Yiannopoulos from coming to campus.
Cal Poly’s administration did not cave to the pressure and the Yiannopoulos event proceeded under a heavy police presence, on which Cal Poly, the CSU system and SLOPD spent a combined total of more than $64,000. The following night, masked rioters shut down a Yiannopoulos speaking event at UC Berkeley before the political commentator began speaking.
Following the announcement of the new fake news panel that will include Yiannopoulos, Cal Poly released a statement saying it will again uphold free speech on campus.
“The university understands that the participants in the panel discussion are personalities that some members of our campus community may find offensive. However, as a public university, Cal Poly is required to uphold free speech rights and provide an open forum for a variety of opinions, thoughts and ideas — even those that may be distasteful or offensive.
“Censoring language and viewpoints violates First Amendment rights and does not represent what Cal Poly stands for as a university. Rather, free speech and the open exchange of ideas and opinions — even those that conflict with our own — is an important part of critical thinking and student growth.
“University officials are discussing measures that will be taken in order to maintain a safe and secure campus environment while allowing the club to proceed with its event.”
The conservative-flavored fake news panel is scheduled to take place April 26 at Mott Gym on the Cal Poly campus