Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,
Milo Yiannopoulos spoke tonight at UWM as part of his nationwide college tour. I have spoken with students and others who opposed his appearance, and some of them protested tonight. I understand and appreciate their concerns and perspective.
Yiannopoulos’ stop at UWM was sponsored by a student organization, Turning Point USA. UWM is prohibited by law from restricting access to its facilities based on the viewpoint of a student organization or a guest or speaker invited by a student organization. Free speech is one of UWM’s core values and I will support students’ decisions to bring a wide array of speakers to our campus – even if the speaker is controversial, and even if I disagree with him or her. One of the core tenets of public universities is learning about the world by communicating with people who think differently than we do. I would not deprive students or our community of opportunities to hear diverse viewpoints.
That said, I do not agree with Yiannopoulos’ views, and I strongly condemn the belittling of others and their appearance, and the encouragement of hate and harassment. I also will not stand silently by when a member of our campus community is personally and wrongly attacked. I am disappointed that this speaker chose to attack a transgender student. We are proud of the work of our LGBT Resource Center, as well as faculty and staff members, in fostering inclusivity and earning us recognition as one of the top universities in the nation for LGBT+ students.
Our campus has a wonderful diversity that fosters a creative and exciting learning environment. It is critical that we protect, support and celebrate the exchange of ideas and cultural traditions that take place here. The inclusivity and safety of our campus are top priorities. Every member of our community should feel safe and valued, regardless of beliefs, race, sexual orientation, immigration or other status.
We are at a pivotal moment in our nation’s history after a contentious and divisive election. We can continue to use language that widens the divide. Or, we can choose language that bridges gaps and heals. I urge you to join me in seeking ways to reach out and find common ground. I also urge you to respond to tonight’s event with positive messages, not anger. Join me on social media in using #UWMstandstogether to tell our city, state and nation about the wonderful things happening on our campus and the valuable contributions of our students, faculty and staff.
Mark A. Mone
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee