Our response to a controversial speaker

I have heard from many in our community of concerns about this Friday’s speech by Milo Yiannopoulos to be held on the Seattle campus, and understand the objections to this speaker’s appearance at the University. As you may know, he was invited by the College Republicans, a UW student group. Although this is not the type of speaker many would invite to any UW campus, we need to fully respect a student group’s right to invite speakers of their choice, even those who are controversial or whose appearance may offend some.
I encourage you to read President Cauce’s recent blog about this event and the University of Washington’s position and commitment to both inclusion and the protection of freedom of speech. You will note that the State Attorney General’s office says there are currently no grounds to ban him from speaking at the Seattle campus. In an update to the post earlier this week, President Cauce also responded to reports of flyers targeting the leader of UW College Republicans, stating that “harassment conducted by members of the UW community is unacceptable and subject to disciplinary action.”
This scheduled speaker relies on controversy to grow his audience and share his message. A colleague recently suggested the speaker’s power could be easily diluted if those who oppose him – and there are many – simply ignored his presence. I am hopeful that over time the extreme and divisive nature of his opinions will eventually be drowned by the overwhelming majority who believe in the kind of generous and inclusive society reflected in our campus values.