The president of DePaul University, a Catholic institution based in Chicago, announced that he is resigning after weeks of campus unrest and over his handling of a visit by an outspoken libertarian, Milo Yiannopoulos. According to Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, he had decided to step down months before Yiannopoulos’s visit on May 24, however.
Yiannopoulos is a writer for Breitbart News and has been visiting various colleges and universities as part of his “Dangerous Faggot Tour” since last year. During his scheduled visit to DePaul, his event was disrupted by a group of Black Lives Matter protesters who took over the stage and refused to leave. As a result, the event was suspended. Afterwards, Yiannopoulos supporters and detractors clashed.
At the time of the event, Rev. Holtschneider was in France. Following the outcry over Yiannopoulos’ appearance, he issued a statement condemning the firebrand’s rhetoric and the protesters’ tactics. Holtschneider himself became the apple of discord, however. The university was criticized for requiring that the sponsoring College Republicans to pay an extra fee for security, even though security officers did little to halt the raucous protesters. He was also criticized for offering an apology that compared the Black Lives Matters protesters to American soldiers who attacked Normandy on D-Day.
Black Lives Matter contended that by defending the College Republicans’ right to invite Yiannopoulos, Holtschneider was averring supposed hate speech. DePaul professor Terry Smith wrote an op-ed in the campus newspaper demanding Holtschneider’s resignation and claimed that the Black Lives Matter protesters were merely engaging in Constitutionally-protected speech. That right, wrote Smith, did not extend to Yiannopoulos.
“Under the guise of free speech, the President rejected calls to disallow Yiannopoulos’ appearance on campus, although from the inception of the controversy Holtschneider knew that the speaker was ‘unworthy of university discourse,'” Smith wrote. “That the president of a major American university could harbor such an incoherent conception of free speech is both shocking and embarrassing; that he would then blame the subjects of Yiannopoulos’ hate speech for asserting their own free speech rights is unconscionable.”
Holtschneider will stay on as president until mid-2017: two years earlier than previously planned. “It’s best for DePaul if I step aside in the summer of 2017 so that a new leader can assist the institution to name and ambitiously pursue its next set of strategic objectives,” Holtschneider said in a campus-wide email.
Professor Smith praised Holtschneider’s resignation as an act of “leadership.” It is, however, only the begging blacks at DePaul demand. “His decision … should not be used as an excuse to slow-walk or ignore the demands set forth by the university’s black community,” Smith told the DePaulia.
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