Milo Yiannopoulos

UC Davis College Republicans and other supporters march Jan. 14 with Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Davis. College Republicans tried to bring Yiannopoulos to speak at Cal State Bakersfield but changed their minds.

Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee

The rumors that Milo Yiannopoulos has been invited to Cal State Bakersfield by the College Republicans are true.

But there’s trouble.

Lawyers are now involved.

William Becker Jr., president and CEO of conservative nonprofit law firm Freedom X, has sent a letter to CSUB officials challenging their handling of the event planning process.

Unless the university approves Yiannopoulos’ speaking engagement on Oct. 25 in the Icardo Center, the letter states, it will have violated the CSUB College Republicans' constitutional rights.

And legal action will follow.

Yiannopoulos is a polarizing conservative activist and former Brietbart editor whose visits to American universities have sparked controversy and violence, most notably a visit to the University of California at Berkeley in February that involved rioting, vandalism, arson and other mayhem.

Becker's letter demands that CSUB officials immediately reverse a decision that the Icardo Center on campus is off-limits for the event due to a “commercial use” policy that states, “Use of university facilities for commercial purposes is restricted.”

CSUB considers it commercial, Becker said, because the College Republicans want to sell tickets to fund the $20,000 speaker's fee.

The university declined to address the letter immediately on Wednesday.

“We have received the letter and are in the process of reviewing it,” said CSUB Director of Public Affairs and Communications Michael Lukens.

Becker writes that former CSUB College Republicans Chairman Jack Thomasy has been working with the university since May and had tentative approval to host Yiannopoulos’ visit.

“Despite this protracted process and the representations made to Thomasy during it concerning the necessary conditions for having the CSUB-CR’s event approved, it wasn’t until very recently, September 8, 2017, that Thomasy was informed the Icardo Center was off-limits for commercial use and that he would need to locate an alternative venue,” the letter states.

That decision has thrown the College Republicans group planning process into turmoil, the letter states, and forces it to absorb Yiannopoulos' $20,000 speaking fee on its own.

In a phone interview, Becker said that the CSUB College Republican group wants to sell tickets to the event to cover the $20,000 speaker fee.

CSUB is calling that a commercial event and saying it can’t be held in the Icardo Center, he said. The College Republicans organization has to keep the event free to the public or find another venue.

A copy of CSUB's facilities use policies obtained by The Californian shows that the university restricts the use of campus facilities for commercial events.

There is no other venue that can hold the event, which has a projected attendance of 1,000, according to CSUB's preliminary event schedule, Becker said.

“What they’re doing is a de facto ban on most public appearances,” he said. “If you can’t charge for public speakers like Milo, you’re never going to get speakers on campus.”

Currently, he said, he is working with Cal State Fullerton to host Yiannopoulos for a Halloween speaking engagement and the university is coordinating the ticketing.

Becker said CSUB has been stringing Thomasy along and has labeled the event commercial because “They know that the College Republicans can’t afford” to pay for the event up-front.

If that decision isn't reversed this week, the letter states, Freedom X will sue CSUB.

A series of hot debates developed on The Californian’s Facebook post about the event.

Some posters accused opponents of trying to block free speech by preventing Yiannopoulos from visiting. Others roundly cheered the man.

Still others pointed to some of his controversial statements and the violence that has followed him as reasons to keep him away from CSUB.

Elizabeth Lewis wrote that she is concerned that Yiannopoulos is known for “outing” LGBTQ, Muslim and immigrant students at events like the ones planned at CSUB.

She is opposed to Yiannopoulos and his tactics, she wrote, but she isn’t opposed to the event happening. She’d even attend, she wrote, to hear him for herself.

But CSUB and students shouldn’t be required to pay for Yiannopoulos to come, Lewis said.

“I'm not at all arguing he shouldn't be allowed to speak here. I'm arguing that campus policy means we don't have to pay for him. Period. We don't have to pay for anything even remotely like him, we didn't pay for Biden, we didn't pay for the man who blew Watergate when he came and spoke, we wouldn't pay for Trump. Clubs don't get to do this. That's it. That is all I'm saying,” she wrote.

James Burger can be reached at 661‑395-7415. Follow him on Twitter: @KernQuirks.

(15) comments

The Todd

The majority of CSUB doesn't really care if they bring Milo as long as they pay for it. The deal for all clubs is that they get a free venue as long as the event is free. The Republicans want to have a free venue and charge for it, which really isn't fair to the students whose fees finance the Icardo Center. Students would be equally upset if the school tried to charge them for sports games in the Icardo Center.

GaryJohns

So start a "Go Fund Me" account....you'll make five times more money than you need to get him/her here. Republicans will make money...Milo makes his talk....and all the fruitcake lefties on this comment section will be traumatized even further. Win/Win/Win!

Nevermind

Gary, when did you start endorsing child molesters?

Stephen

Some commentators are pointing to violence at such activities like a speech from a right wing bigot as being "from the left." The fly in the ointment is so-called left wing violence at such talks or attempted talks is a phenomenon that has mainly arisen since the rise of Donald Trump. The people involved in inciting violence are people I've never heard of and don't appear to have any connection to any progressive group I'm involved with. Has it occurred to anyone not set on finding excuses to blame the left for the poorly considered activities from the right that these are planted provocateurs? The rabid right are easily incited to violence and it doesn't need a very big spark to set them off. Look at the low information rabble that constitutes Trump's base in supporting Trump in yelling nonsense at his ongoing Presidential campaign. In support of an unsupportable world view too many put their ideology and emotions ahead of what should be critical thought and consideration.

Vico17

"planted provocateurs"? you mean like the hired protesters in Chicago when Trump gave a stump speech during the campaign? Are you suggesting ANTIFA is not a leftist, fascist group? You might not recognize them because they cover their face to hide their identity, but from those arrested at Berkeley caring illegal weapons, all 9 were leftists. In fact one had recently taken a selfie with HRC during happier times. Your suggestion that these violent protesters belong to the right is beneath you. From years past I had gather you were a rational, logical, thinking human being. Now I have my doubts.

Wim Laven

It really isn't surprising to see so many dishonest comments in reaction to this article. What is surprising, however, is see how explicitly the commercial label is applied. While it is not uncommon for speakers to have fees, selling tickets for those talks is quite rare on public campuses (for a long list of good reasons).

If the group wants to charge for the event, and make money, then they should expect to pay for the facilities. They want a free building, for private use, and that isn't going to work.

The only part missing is who has to pay for the extra security costs... All in all I hope the College Republicans get their stuff together, because this is just plain embarrassing.

As far as the free speech, it is kind of ironic that Milo might have this issue because it is "paid" speech.

Kennbeal

Great publicity stunt! Just think, a few more articles like this and the Icardo will be packed. And with a wee-bit more drama, may even make the national media stage.

Stephen

So the campus Repubicans want this guy to speak. I'd say, fine. Let him. Listen to his message and then honestly ask yourselves if this represents the values of the US, our Constitution and the values of freedom and responsibility. This is a university environment. Put on your critical thinking caps and consider the outcomes of applying Mr. Yiannopoulos' values and ideas into practice. So often the message from the right that, from a distance, looks so simple, pure and right turns to something else when looked at up close at how it affects the individual.

MaynardG

First, let's be fair with regard to the protester violence exhibited at American universities with regard to Milo Yiannopoulos: the violence and opposition has been from the Left, not the sponsors of the events. Even the spokesman for UC Berkerley is quoted as saying “We have neither the legal right or desire to interfere with or cancel their invitations based on the perspectives and beliefs of the speakers,” when liberals attempted to cancel speaking events.
Second, I'm curious what the liberals are afraid of here and why they think they need to prevent Mr. Yiannopoulos from speaking.

Inconvenient Truth

The 1st Amendment was written solely to protect UNPOPULAR speech; since POPULAR speech needs no protection.

Leftists: "We can't STAND intolerant people!!!"

Gemini3901

Let's hold a BLM event next.... free speech, right? I bet half of Bakersfield would be up in arms against a BLM event.....

AmericanMike

I've rented the Icardo Center for commercial usage 3 or 4 times.

Kennbeal

Exactly. Only a lunatic would require and event to be free in our culture.

Richard Saunders

Turns out this isn't about "free" speech after all.

KenWitham

What a waste of time and money!

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