The CSUF College Republicans club is finalizing plans to have Milo Yiannopoulos speak in the Titan Student Union Pavilions.
College Republicans club president Emeritus Chris Boyle said the paperwork to reserve the space is on club president Amanda McGuire’s desk and that once the reservation is final, they can finalize details with Yiannopoulos who “doesn’t want to commit himself if he doesn’t know if he’s going to have a space.”
“I’d say it’s about a step away before everything just needs to be signed,” Boyle said. “We’re pretty close to sealing the deal on this.”
Yiannopoulos is a provocative, right-wing personality and former Breitbart News editor. Violent protests broke out at UC Berkeley when he was slated to speak there in February.
“We have students all across the spectrum that feel an entertainer like Milo Yiannopoulos is someone that is going to offer them a sort of experience that they desire in terms of representation that they feel the university has yet to offer,” Boyle said.
Boyle said the club has been talking with Student Life and Leadership, University Conference Spaces and the University Police Department.
SLL Director Vincent Vigil confirmed that the College Republicans club has talked with them about bringing Yiannopoulos to campus.
Vigil said SLL monitors free-speech activities on campus when there are outdoor rallies, marches or speakers, like when preachers come to campus. However, the plans for Yiannopoulos would be outside of his jurisdiction because the event would be inside the TSU.
“We try not to talk about or promote guest speakers until a contract is signed because we can be held liable if we try to promote something when a contract has not been signed,” Vigil said.
Interim Associate Director of the TSU Jeff Fehrn said the club initially made a request in May to reserve a space.
“We’re still getting details and we’re still waiting on signatures,” Fehrn said. “I’ve got to get details down on paper so they can sign them.”
University Police Capt. Scot Willey said University Police was not able to discuss any details regarding Yiannopoulos because “nothing has been finalized on that.”
Boyle also said the club has been in contact with the Fullerton Police Department Chief of Police David Hendricks and Mayor Bruce Whitaker to “make sure we’re coordinating with the locality” in case there is a large community involvement.
Hendricks said he has not heard from anyone regarding Yiannopoulos in an email. At the time of this report, Whitaker could not be reached for comment.
Students for Quality Education started a petition on change.org to let “the CSUF Administration know that we do not want Milo Yiannopoulos or any other ‘alt-right’ figures on our campus.”
The petition is set to be delivered to nine individuals and groups, including University President Mildred Garcia, Interim Provost Anil Puri, the University Police Department and Associated Students Inc. It has received 3,103 signatures as of Aug. 27.
“The way we found out was through the administration because we’re a political group on campus and we’ve had problems with the Republicans group in the past,” said SQE member Liz Sanchez.
Sanchez was not willing to divulge which member of the administration gave them the information.
Chief Communications Officer Jeffrey Cook said that Yiannopoulos coming to campus would not be a university-sponsored event.
“Mr. Yiannopoulos is certainly a very controversial figure, but it’s not the administration’s role to decide who can and cannot express their viewpoints on campus,” Cook said. “While many people here and in the community beyond may find his remarks distasteful, if not totally objectionable, even hateful speech is protected speech.”
However, he said once the contract is finalized and the College Republicans have a date and time reserved, the university will be planning to help assure the safety and security of the campus community.
“I think the university is realistic about the kinds of planning that need to take place and the kinds of assessments that need to take place both in the short term and the longer term,” Cook said.
Any campus club registered by SLL can rent space in the TSU for anything from weekly meetings, to guest speakers through the University Conference Center on TitanLink.
“We do not differentiate between any club. For any student group who wants to reserve a room we go through the exact same process,” said ASI Associate Executive Director Keya Allen.
Allen said the TSU is filled daily and rooms often get rented on a first-come, first-served basis. TSU staff helps clubs accommodate a speaker once a contract is signed but has no involvement in booking the guest.
“Sometimes we have a ton of preplanning. It kind of depends on your reservation,” Fehrn said. “We’ve got weekly meetings where students in clubs are here for an hour a week and there’s very minimal planning, then all the way up to huge events where we are doing month’s worth of activities trying to figure things out.”
SLL also does not get involved in the process of signing contracts with guest speakers, but Vigil said any one of its members can serve as an advisor to any club that wants their help when examining contracts for odd demands.
“The university does not sign any contracts for speakers,” Vigil said. “The student president of that organization does that. So we are very hands off when it comes to contracts, but we will help advise them in terms of what they should be looking for.”
Boyle said the College Republicans club is “by no means a Milo Yiannopoulos fan club,” but that conservative figures who have spoken on campus in the past have mostly represented business leaders.
“While many speakers have come on campus in support for left-leaning values, (conservative students) feel there have not been enough people associated with popular culture speaking respective conservative values on campus,” Boyle said.