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SLO workshop tackles issue of free speech on campus

The city of San Luis Obispo will host a public workshop Tuesday evening to address controversial speakers, free speech and the campus climate, among other topics.
The city of San Luis Obispo will host a public workshop Tuesday evening to address controversial speakers, free speech and the campus climate, among other topics. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

A public workshop hosted by the city of San Luis Obispo to address issues related to free speech, particularly with controversial speakers coming to Cal Poly, will be held Tuesday (Jan. 24) at 5 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall at 990 Palm St.

The event, titled “Free Expression and Campus Climate,” will be hosted by the city’s Human Relations Commission.

The workshop will be hosted by Cal Poly Office of General Counsel’s Dawn Theodora and Dean of Students Kathleen McMahon.

“As Cal Poly has been working to address issues related to free speech, particularly with controversial speakers coming to campus, they offered to extend the conversation off campus with city residents,” the city stated in a public announcement.

Over the past couple of months, the scheduled visit of “alt-right” speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, who will appear at Cal Poly on Tuesday for a talk, has stirred debate as critics say his statements align him with racial bigotry. “Alt-right” is an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism. Cal Poly officials say the university has the responsibility to uphold free speech, and they will not shut down the talk arranged by the Cal Poly College Republicans.

The discussion will cover topics including the First Amendment, protected speech, student activism, and understanding higher education’s legal and ethical responsibilities.

The Human Relations Commission advises the City Council on matters concerning social problems affecting residents, assists in tenant/landlord problems, and receives and recommends grants-in-aid to assist groups which provide human services programs.

HRC meetings are always open to the public.

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