This morning, I received yet another email from Cal State Fullerton President Mildred García regarding Milo Yiannopoulos’ speaking engagement. García praised the CSUF community for our outstanding behavior in the face of a difficult situation last night. The email further extols our campus as “the model public comprehensive university of the nation,” which García takes pride in. In such communications, the CSUF administration makes its disconnect from students abundantly clear.
Images from yesterday evening convey a much different picture than the CSUF administration’s utopian campus. Protest, counter-protest, violence and arrests plagued last night’s events, but a universal sentiment hung over our school. It was neither the desire for free speech, nor was it optimism for democracy. It was the basic instinct of fear.
Despite the precautions and assurances the CSUF administration gave students, many grappled with Yiannopoulos’ presence on campus. As the day of the event approached, questions regarding physical safety arose.
Putting the debate regarding the speaker aside, why did such a controversial event occur on campus on a school day? Why did it take place on Halloween night, when many experience an altered psychological state reducing accountability? And why did the police and campus administration close off much of the parking on campus making it difficult to leave campus quickly?
Due to these factors and many others, numerous professors canceled class on Halloween, and students decided not to come. Regardless of how successful the CSUF administration views that night, we all forget one significant flaw. The administration allowed this situation to interfere with our education.
Faculty and students alike argued about the safety of campus during the event, but ultimately, enough people feared for their physical safety to prompt class cancellations. How can we be a “model university” if our administration ignores the students’ right to access education free of fear?
Masters student of public history
California State University, Fullerton