Anthropologists at the University of California, Berkeley, and other scholars are drawing attention to some rescheduling the university's library encouraged the rescheduling of a long planned lecture by a leading scholar because it coincides with a planned appearance on campus the same day this month by Milo Yiannopoulos, the conservative speaker known for inflammatory statements and drawing protests, some of them violent. Some reports on social media indicated that Berkeley required the rescheduling but the administration said only that the library (where the anthropologists' talk was scheduled) recommended rescheduling a lecture by Anna Tsing, a professor of anthropology at UC Santa Cruz. (The lecture has been postponed until November.) Berkeley officials have said that they are determined to show the university's commitment to free speech by letting Yiannopoulos speak on campus
An open letter from scholars questions whether something is wrong when efforts to protect Yiannopoulos result in scheduling conflicts for scholarly events planned months ago.
"While we understand the library administration’s concern for the safety and security of people on campus, we are deeply troubled by the fact that the university is willing to prioritize a vitriolic white supremacist speaker, who seeks to disrupt academic life through his performance, over and above a renowned scholar and thinker committed to thoughtful scholarly engagement," says the letter. "If this 'Year of Free Speech' is about giving an equal platform to all speakers, it would seem that it has already failed. Hate speech has taken precedence over academic discourse."