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Cal Poly students react to planned return of controversial speaker Milo Yiannopoulos

Posted at 5:55 PM, Apr 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-05 20:55:55-04

Cal Poly College Republicans and Turning Point USA are hosting a fake news panel discussion at the end of the month.

Invited to the event is controversial conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, whose visit to campus last year led to protests.

"My English class last quarter, we spent probably like two weeks focusing on fake news," said student Marissa Hall. 

"Personally, I think it’s acceptable to have someone controversial in that I think it’s not something that you need to, that needs to be avoided," said student Dominic Duran. "I think it’s just expressing their views and there’s nothing wrong with that in my eyes."

Yiannopoulos’ event at the university sold out last year. Some showed up to protest the former Breitbart News editors’ appearance, but the demonstrations were peaceful.

Still, law enforcement didn’t take any chances. The California State University system spent more than $55,000 on police and security measures.

A previous panel on fake news that included both the Cal Poly Democrats Club and Cal Poly College Republicans was canceled after most of the participants backed out following backlash over conservative commentator Bill Whittle being included in the discussion. 

"If you only have one party, then you’re not really getting the most out of it," said student Sawyer Ledert.

KSBY reached out to Milo Yiannopoulos about the upcoming panel and he sent the following statement:
"The political Right is the only side of the equation qualified to speak on this subject, since it’s the Right that is constantly falsely accused of ‘fake news’ while also being the perpetual victims of it from places like CNN. We are under assault and it’s time to cast off the veneer of friendly bipartisanship and go to war. The Washington Post deserves to be driven out of business, and so do the social networks that habitually punish conservative outlets – blaming "algorithms" when they get caught – and give passes to hate and abuse from Leftist users. We’ve had enough. We are coming for you. And we have half the country behind us." 

KSBY also reached out to the College Republicans for comment but was directed to a Facebook post with details on the event.

The Cal Poly Democrats responded with the following statement:
"The Cal Poly Democrats planned to partner with the participate in a Fake News Panel organized by a number of campus entities, including the College Republicans, in February, where we intended to provide students and community members with a political dialogue during a divisive political period. We were disappointed to have to pull out of the event upon learning that the speaker invited by the College Republicans had made incredibly racist remarks about African Americans and Muslims. As we said in our statement where we left the event, it is important to discuss disagreements; however, there are views so odious that they do not deserve a seat at the discussion table. 
The upcoming Fake News Panel was organized solely by the College Republicans. 
By inviting Milo Yiannopoulos to our campus again, the College Republicans are doubling down on inviting unreliable, alt-right speakers who aim to provoke rather than persuade. Milo Yiannopoulos is known for making hateful comments about a variety of underrepresented groups and the College Republicans are associating themselves with his beliefs. 
We understand that it is important to have political discussions with people with whom you disagree; however, as long as the College Republicans continue to bring this type of hateful speaker to campus, it shows that they are unwilling to engage in real political dialogue."