Republican students at a California school are declaring victory after campus officials on Tuesday dropped plans to punish them in connection with an event that featured conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.
The openly gay Breitbart journalist brought his “Dangerous Faggot Tour” to University of California Irvine June 2 in an event hosted by the school’s Student Republicans. An estimated 80 police officers were there to maintain order, and school officials initially sought to bar the group from holding events for a year, claiming it did not provide proof of required insurance for the event. But when the group declined to appeal and instead threatened suit, school officials backed down.
“Based on my review of this matter, I have decided that the appropriate outcome for the group’s failure to obtain the required proof of insurance is a warning,” Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Thomas Parham wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to College Republicans attorney Shawn Steel, who also serves as the Republican National Committeeman for California.
Parham’s decision calms a situation that sparked a backlash from conservatives and even the school’s Bernie Sanders supporters. The furor was also merrily fueled by the loquacious Yiannopoulos, whose show featured him dressing up as a police officer and spanking a person wearing an Obama mask. Yiannopoulos has been on a college tour with YouTube star Steven Crowder and conservative author and professor Christina Hoff Sommers.
“It’s going to be free speech central whether the college authorities like it or not,” Yiannopoulos told FoxNews.com, vowing to return to Cal Irvine next semester to a host an even larger rally to spite officials.
Yiannopoulos’ performance at DePaul University in May led to protests and ultimately the resignation of the school’s president, FoxNews.com reported. He said protesters at the Cal Irvine show “with all their theatrics and yelling and attempts to shut me down prove my point better than anything I can say.”
Yiannopoulos said he relishes getting under the skin of liberals on campus, and “beating” liberal administrators who force their beliefs on undergraduates.
The Cal Irvine Student Republicans were initially cited for failing to provide proof of insurance for third-party security officers, a policy that administrators only briefly mentioned in the days leading up to the event, without an explanation of urgency or process, claims Student Republicans president Ariana Rowlands.
Steel funded private security for the event in light of prior attacks directed at Yiannopoulos after UC Irvine officials allegedly refused to confirm there would be sufficient protection at the event, he told FoxNews.com.
The university imposed the sanction just hours after the Student Republicans announced they would invite Yiannopoulos back for a repeat performance, Rowlands said. But instead of appealing the decision through the campus administration, Steel said the group was prepared to go to federal court and sue under the First Amendment.
“The Student Republicans are “treated very fairly and afforded all the rights and opportunities of [all] students” university spokeswoman Janet Wilson told FoxNews.com in an email, insisting the only issue was the group’s failure to follow policy.
Rowlands said the school's latest move does not end the dispute, and vowed to fight for a fair policy that will be enforced equally against conservative and liberal groups.
Meanwhile, Yiannopoulos will resume his college tour in September. He anticipates generating more controversy by wading into the liberal waters of academia.
“I don’t fit the liberal mold,” Yiannopoulos said. “The normal attacks the left use -- they don’t work on me, so they have to come up with reason and fact and consider me quite dangerous.
“As a Brit, I came to America imagining America was the free speech capitol of the world,” he added. “I was so shocked by the range of opinions that are not permissible on American college campuses.”