A student center for gay, bisexual, and transgender students at the University of Michigan created a safe space Tuesday to protect students frightened by an approaching debate on the subject “Does Feminism Have a Free Speech Problem?”
“We recognize that the rhetoric of the speakers featured in this event is incredibly harmful to many members of our campus community,” says the announcement by Michigan’s Spectrum Student Center. “The Spectrum Center will be providing a supportive alternative space this evening and holding extended staffed hours until 9pm. [Emphasis theirs] There will be no program; our intent is to offer a relaxing, positive space for students who want to gather in community.”
The Spectrum Center is a student center that offers various programs and services through a framework of “sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.”
The upcoming event that has Spectrum residents so upset is an appearance by British journalist Milo Yiannopoulos hosted by The Michigan Review. Yiannopoulos, a gay man and an intense critic of feminism, is currently on his so-called “Dangerous Faggot Tour” which is taking him to dozens of schools in the U.S., United Kingdom, and several other countries. At Michigan, he is scheduled to debate feminist writer Julie Bindel on whether feminism is encouraging the suppression of free speech. Both of the speakers are known firebrands who have been barred from speaking at several schools in the U.K.
The Spectrum Center has every reason to believe some students will react hysterically to Yiannopoulos’s appearance. During a recent stop at Rutgers University, protesters disrupted the event and smeared fake blood on their faces. Afterwards, the members of various student organizations gathered for a group therapy session to cope with the effects of Yiannopoulos’s visit. One student even claimed that Yiannopoulos had engaged in violence against them by mocking the idea of “rape culture.”
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