Noor in a Nutshell: Radical costs due to conservative speakers

Noor Naji, Opinion Editor

As alt-right speakers find a platform for their hate in universities under the banner of free speech, the costly bills paid by universities often goes unnoticed.

Alt-right media personality Milo Yiannopoulos spoke at Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 31, which prompted a heavy response from its student body prior to the event, garnering over 5,000 signatures for the petition to cancel the event.

“Inviting Milo Yiannopoulos is inviting the alt-right and white supremacists who follow him,” the petition read. “Allowing him to have a platform validates him and allows these groups to organize within our community.”

The College Republican club invited Yiannopoulos to the university to prove a “diverse opinion” to the “liberal” college. While there is no doubt that diverse opinions should be present on college campuses, one could do so by inviting intellectual conservatives. Speakers like National Review editor Rich Lowry are likely better representatives of conservatism and better qualified to start intellectual conversations.

It is clear that alt-right figures aren’t using universities to speak about the First Amendment and invoke dialogue, but are instead taking advantage of universities as a publicity stunt at little or no cost to them; the real cost often lies on the universities they attend.

University of California, Berkeley has already spent more than $2.5 million on security for inviting controversial speakers this year, according to USA Today. Moreover, the University of Florida president W. Kent Fuchs said that the university spent more than $600,000  for extra security when white supremacist Richard Spencer rented a university hall for his event.

These lofty costs are a major concern, especially when taxpayer money is used to pay for these circus shows. Revenue for state universities often come from two major sources: taxes and tuition. If the trend of universities losing money and speakers gaining publicity as a result continues, then universities might have to resort to increase tuition.

But how dare the university limit “free speech” and prevent students from hearing Milo’s witty words of wisdom and nuanced political opinions? Instead of those like of Yiannopoulos, who are antifeminist, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Muslim and simply slap on the label of conservative, universities should invite those who will not invite violence or white supremacy if they truly care about sparking a real conversation—especially when the former is more costly.

“It is unfair that large public research universities are expected to pick up the cost for these events,” University of Florida President Fuchs said. “At some point, the courts will have to weigh in. We can’t be the only ones sharing this burden.”