Was Milo Yiannopoulos’ event a ‘publicity stunt’? UC Berkeley community debates

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Milo Yiannopoulos’ approximately 20-minute appearance Sunday on Sproul Plaza has generated criticism from a number of campus community members, who called the event a publicity stunt.

After briefly addressing a crowd of about 50 people who were able to make it past security to attend the event, Yiannopoulos spent several minutes taking pictures with members of the crowd and autographing paraphernalia. He then hurriedly left campus.

Yiannopoulos was initially invited to speak at UC Berkeley by conservative campus publication the Berkeley Patriot, which was responsible for hosting “Free Speech Week” on campus from Sunday to Sept. 27. The Berkeley Patriot announced Saturday that Free Speech Week was canceled, but Yiannopoulos — who had been working with the Berkeley Patriot to co-organize Free Speech Week — said he intended to speak on campus whether or not he had the organization’s support.

Many members of the campus community said Yiannopoulos’ 20-minute speech was done for the sake of publicity, including campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof, who referred to Yiannopoulos’ visit as the “most expensive photo op” in the campus’s history during a press conference held after Yiannopoulos left campus.

“I think the fact that he was only there for 15-20 minutes and spent most of it taking pictures with people instead of saying anything substantive shows that this was a publicity stunt,” said CalSERVE party chair Victoria Berdin, who participated in protests of the event Sunday.

Campus sophomore Sona Trika expressed disappointment over Yiannopoulos’ visit, calling the protective measures taken by campus and community members “wasteful.” Security for the event will cost the campus about $800,000, according to UCPD Chief Margo Bennett.

“Why does the university as an institution have to host Milo?” said campus freshman Sarah Kim. “Why can’t Milo go somewhere else or talk at some other public venue? All that these events do is drain campus funds.”

Berkeley Police Department and its law enforcement partners arrested at least 11 people in connection to Sunday’s demonstrations. Berdin alleged that some relatively peaceful protesters were arrested at the event, while others engaging in more “violent” acts were left alone.

Berdin also said she believed Yiannopoulos’ appearance was a “missed opportunity” for Chancellor Carol Christ and the campus to oppose hate speech.

“If we say we’re going to be supporting marginalized communities on campus, we shouldn’t be negotiating ideas that undermine (their) safety,” Berdin said.

Mogulof said during the press conference Sunday that the campus’s commitment to implementing policies that support free speech will not waver, even in the changing political climate.

“We’re seeing things here again on the campus and the country that we haven’t seen before,” Mogulof said during the conference.

Amber Tang covers student life. Contact her at ambertang@dailycal.org and follow her on Twitter at @ambertang_dc.

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  • Winston

    Of course it was a publicity stunt. Any political speaker to the right of Mao shows up at Berkeley and it becomes an immediate clown show. And if they are really lucky they get a riot and all the attendant media coverage. Don’t want more publicity stunts? Well then stop providing such easy publicity. See how that works?

    • BerCaley

      This almost made sense.

      • Winston

        Well as long as it almost does. :)

  • Winston

    So no free speech for hate speech, and a group of sophomoric, half-educated students define what hate speech is. What could go wrong?

    • BerCaley

      This didn’t.

  • elizabeth frantes

    If it’s about Milo, it’s about publicity stunts. He’s an aging rent boy who has to be the center of attention, more contrarian than conservative. Why take him seriously? Just ignore that drama queen, don’t feed the trolls.

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  • SMH

    ……………..

    MILO YIANNOPOULOS HAS MADE A **FOOL** OF THE UC BERKELEY CHANCELLOR & THE ENTIRE UNIVERSITY IN THE UNIVERSITY’S SPENDING OF **$800,000** TO **$1,000,000** FOR MILO’S SMUG SELF-SERVING 20 MINUTE PHOTO-OP & AUTOGRAPH SESSION.

    BUT IT *DOES* SHOW THAT THE CHANCELLOR CAN COME UP WITH SUCH MONEY WHEN THE CHANCELLOR *WANTS* TO DO SO — MONEY THAT COULD GO TO ETHNIC STUDIES & OTHER DIVERSITY *ENRICHMENT* EDUCATIONAL / ACADEMIC PROGRAMS, INSTEAD OF EDUCATIONAL / ACADEMIC CUTS OR SHORTCOMINGS.

    ……………..

    • SMH

      ……………..

      And, actually, the TV news said it was only 15 minutes!

      $800,000/15minutes = over **$53,000** per **minute**!!

      $1,000,000/15 minute = almost **$67,000** per **minute**!!

      ……………..

  • Carlo Kane

    –Berkeley…the entire campus is a daycare center, the people are so emotionally fragile, that most belong in diapers breastfeeding.

    • C Bierbauer78

      Whine on little boi!

  • Killer Marmot

    “Why does the university as an institution have to host Milo?” said campus freshman Sarah Kim. “Why can’t Milo go somewhere else or talk at some other public venue? All that these events do is drain campus funds.”

    No, the people who have drained campus funds are those who would shut down speech they disagree with, even to the extent of using any means necessary. You want to save campus dollars, Kim, start denouncing those people.

    • BerCaley

      Probably just easier to ignore Milo and his fans like Killer Marmot.
      They have nothing to say so there is nothing to miss.

  • Killer Marmot


    “If we say we’re going to be supporting marginalized communities on campus, we shouldn’t be negotiating ideas that undermine (their) safety,” Berdin said.

    In the guise of caring for “marginalized communities”, Berdin would place the jackboot of censorship on the throats of those she disagrees with.

    • C Bierbauer78

      Based Stickman is the one wearing the jackboots, so why are you lying?