Letter to the Editor – In response to: ‘Visit from Milo Yiannopoulos is a learning experience for CSUF students’

In Letters to the Editor, Opinion
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Roll up their sleeves, and go to the library to do research? I wonder if this was a deliberate attempt at trying to be condescending or if this is just the accidental offensive language that happens when white men don’t understand systemic oppression (and how they are allowing it to happen). Doug, may I call you Doug? Dr. Doug, your op-ed this week was not only dangerously misguided, but it was an assault on the very values that we are trying to promote on campus. Forcing students to abandon their very real and valid sense of fear and anger to do extra class work seems contrary to the environment that CSUF is trying to cultivate.

I agree that this can be a teaching moment, but I do not agree with the idea that this must be a teaching moment for students who are feeling threatened.

Students shouldn’t be expected to go out of their way to do extra work to address their cognitive dissonance or discomfort. They should expect to be in a university that acknowledges the importance of their safety.

Oppressors (accidental or purposeful) in a system often place expectations like this on the oppressed in order to effectively silence their discomfort. If we reposition your argument into other contexts, I think it’s easy to see how absurd and offensive it is (perhaps, we can also turn domestic violence into learning opportunities for women, Doug?).

At the same time, you are seemingly trying to hold up and empower students, you are using different oppressive tactics to reinforce a narrative that dismisses and systematically silences any dissent.

It is very easy for a person with your intersection of identities to be blind to what some students are experiencing, but the language being used to contrast this narrative is far from productive.

When you talked about “getting our collective panties in a bunch,” I also understand that you are likely not trying to be as misogynistic as you are. Again, it is easy to be a white male and be blind to how you (and I) contribute to ongoing systems of oppression.

It’s extremely problematic when a professor holds up academic elitism while using femininity as synonymous with emotional/out of control/something to be changed or disdained etc.

When you write that students are experiencing “angst,” this is not the same as what my students are reporting to me, which is fear, safety concerns, anger and betrayal.

Angst is for Simple Plan and My Chemical Romance. Fear is for the students whose identities are being directly attacked by the very campus they call home. The betrayal is for professors like yourself who implicitly or explicitly allow your students to be targeted.

You end your piece by noting that you are too busy to take in what Milo Yiannopoulos is saying anyway. That is great, but I’m concerned that that sort of thinking is missing the point of the discussion.

It isn’t about if you want or don’t want to listen to the upcoming speaker. The concerns students have are not about whether they can make time to receive this talk. They are concerned about the implications and consequences of having a speaker come to campus who has attacked individual students and groups of students before.

Ultimately, even if you were free, I doubt you would be harmed anyways. You are, after all, not the intended target. Perhaps we should all learn to speak with instead of for our students.

Written by, Justin Huft, an adjunct faculty in the psychology and sociology departments at CSUF.

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