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The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Guest speaker process extended

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DePaul administrators have extended an approval process for guest speakers to the 2017-18 academic year that began earlier this year. The announcement comes on the heels of DePaul rescinding right wing provocateur Gavin McInnes’ invitation to speak on campus due to his encouragement of violence.

Any student organization that wishes to invite a guest speaker must submit their name to the review board (composed of students, staff and faculty) with a minimum of one month prior to the desired speaking date so as to allow ample time to assess any speaker’s potential for violence. 

The approval process only applies to outside guest speakers wishing to speak publicly on campus, and does not apply to guests from within the DePaul community and for speakers invited by faculty and university units. Speakers invited by student organizations that are holding an event off campus or only for their registered members are not subject to the review process either. Speaker request submissions for the next academic year will be open June 15.

The review process was first implemented in the Fall 2016 quarter during the wake of violence at the aborted Milo Yiannopoulos event, which sparked the idea of free versus hate speech on DePaul’s campus.

But it’s not just DePaul.

The past few years have been a struggle for universities such as University of California at Berkeley and University of Wisconsin who are trying to figure out what kinds of speech should be permitted on school grounds. DePaul has seen first-hand the conflict that arises when speech is considered hateful. In partnership with other campuses, DePaul students have come together to create a petition that protects any type of speech, hate speech or not.

The petition is called “Statement of Principles: Free Expression on Campuses.” With over 900 signatures already, 40 of them from DePaul students, the number only continues to grow. Matthew Foldi, a junior from University of Chicago, created the idea. With the help from DePaul and other universities, the campuses created this petition to outline what guidelines universities and colleges should follow when free speech is deemed hate speech.

The Google document reads:

“The only way to achieve free speech is by cultivating a culture where all are free to communicate without fear of censorship or intimidation. While some speech may be objectionable and even deeply offensive, constitutionally protected speech ought to be held and enforced as the standard and must not be infringed upon.”

John Minster, chair of the College Republicans and a partner in creating this petition, is pushing for this to be brought to the DePaul administration.

“The goal of this was to craft a statement of principles that should be the governing principles and ideas on campuses. Free speech should be looked at as important and should be respected,” Minster said. “The principles need as many people to sign up as possible. Then, it’ll be taken to the administrations and student government. People care about this. People hold this dearly. We need actual policy.”

The issues that arise with this petition often consist of pushback from those who do not believe hate speech should be protected. Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter are two speakers who hold ideas and beliefs that have put student bodies at odds with each other when it comes to what is allowed and what is not.

Last year, an event created by the College of Republicans, hosted Yiannopoulos and caused the student body to become split when it came to speech. Although the event ended abruptly because of protesters, the impact had already taken place.

“The Statement absolutely, unequivocally protects Milo, Coulter and their rights just as much as it does the rights of extreme left-wing speakers,” Minster said. “The only exception is what the Supreme Court has outlined: a direct incitement of violence. Speaking out against Black Lives Matter, immigration or feminism simply is not that. Literally calling for violence against those groups because of their views would be.”

DePaul’s own procedure when it comes to speakers being allowed on campus tends to be ambiguous. After the Milo Yiannopoulos event took place, speech has been restricted. In August of 2016, conservative speaker Ben Shapiro was forced off campus by the DePaul administration and made to give his speech at the local Greenhouse Theater Center on Lincoln Avenue.

“Speakers provide an opportunity for students to hear and discuss opposing viewpoints on a wide range of topics,” DePaul’s Student Organization Handbook reads.” As such, DePaul encourages student organizations to plan, promote and engage in thoughtful, respectful and challenging dialogue, including through guest speakers. It should be understood that providing a forum in no way implies university approval or endorsement of the views expressed by the sponsored speaker.”

Jack Piazzo, a DePaul Student Government Association member, was one of the first signees, along with Minster. Piazzo sees the petition as a way of discourse allowing freedom of ideas and expression to be spoken of freely.

“The goal of this document was to encourage universities across the country to encourage an open environment of ideas and expression. I can tell you that the writers of this document absolutely condone hate speech in all its forms,” Piazzo said.

“The goal focuses on a better exchange of ideas within a university. An administration that chooses to disallow expression, or even individual speakers because they are ‘too liberal’ or ‘too conservative’ should never be allowed on a campus. Now, in some cases, we have DePaul, for example, who chose to disinvite Ben Shapiro to campus because of a fear that his viewpoints would cause a disruption that the university could not handle.”

In fear of the petition taking a right leaning, Piazzo also made sure it did not come off as such. He went on to clarify all are in favor, left and right, of protecting free speech on campus. Still, it would protect what others consider hate speech.

“I think we’d be better off if we’re not shutting down speakers like Ann Coulter or Ben Shapiro (…) But I think there is a difference,” DePaul College Democrats chair Jack McNeill said. “There is a difference in the ideology that leads to someone to promote or try very hard to bring someone like Milo Yiannopoulos to the campus under the guise that he’s a political thought leader. There are people who will say he’s a comedian or an entertainer. And there is a group of people that will say he is where ‘I get my news or political lineage.’” 

“Why do we want them so badly on campus? What modern day political party does Milo affiliate himself with? We are trying so hard to protect that. That is our voice. We should never, never, forgive giving that guy a platform he had.”

Spokesperson for the DePaul administration did not respond to a request of comment.

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    James R ZoellerAug 19, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    In partnership with other campuses, DePaul students have come together to create a petition that protects any type of speech, hate speech or not.

    “The only way to achieve free speech is by cultivating a culture where all are free to communicate without fear of censorship or intimidation.”

    Intimidation… What does John Minster think hate speech is if not intimidation?