In response to Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong’s Viewpoint from Jan. 27 (“Protecting free speech at Cal Poly is an obligation, not an option”): The university’s response to the Republican club’s invitation of Milo Yiannopoulos indeed serves to educate us.
What we have learned is that the university’s priority is managing legal liability and serving conservative business interests over the mission of the university to uphold the values of “free inquiry, mutual respect, civic engagement and social responsibility.”
The same policy that Armstrong cites to defend the right to post the derogatory fliers states, “Freedom of expression, however, is not an absolute right. It coexists with other rights and the need for public order. … All members of the University community should recognize that freedom of expression includes a responsibility to respect the dignity of others, to acknowledge the right of others to express differing opinions and to maintain civility at all times.”
President Armstrong’s protection of this businessman’s liberty (“freedom of expression”) without requiring the attendant responsibilities (“mutual respect”) is antithetical to democracy.
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Absolving anyone of following community standards of mutual respect — be it the president of the United States or an invited speaker — is a disservice to us all.
Linda Vanasupa, San Luis Obispo