A look at controversial speakers recently hosted by MSU
MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon announced Wednesday that MSU is reviewing a request from the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist organization, to rent space for a speaker.
It is unclear whether the suggested speaker would be the organization’s president, Richard Spencer, or someone else, and MSU has not yet made a decision on whether to allow the speaker, according to Simon’s statement. Spencer has been denied requests to speak by University of Florida and Texas A&M University.
Should MSU decide to host a speaker from the National Policy Institute, it would not be the first time in recent memory campus has hosted a controversial speaker. Appearances by several figures, typically conservatives, have been opposed by members of the student body in the past few years.
Here’s a look at recent campus appearances that have been met with backlash.
Conservative columnist George Will was selected as MSU’s fall 2014 commencement speaker. Following a column Will wrote for the Washington Post in 2014 in which he challenged campus rape statistics and claimed victimhood is a “coveted status,” some MSU students strongly opposed Will’s appearance.
Far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos made a name for himself for being provocative, and that’s the attitude he brought to MSU when invited to speak in 2016.
Additional controversy was created when the Spartan Statue was vandalized with anti-Muslim fliers a few days prior to the event. Yiannopoulos disavowed the fliers in a Facebook post.
Yiannopoulos’ event was greeted by protesters, many of whom attempted to block the building. Yiannopoulos and members of his entourage had disguised themselves as protesters, carrying intentionally misspelled or inflammatory signs, eventually unmasking in the middle of the crowd to a mixture of reverence and revulsion.
Police eventually declared the protest unlawful, ordering students to clear the doorways. Most complied but some got into physical altercations with officers, leading to arrests.
Donald Trump Jr.
Invited by MSU College Republicans, the eldest son of then-2016 Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke at MSU Union in November 2016.
Trump Jr. stumped for his father in one of several Michigan appearances by the Trump campaign leading up to the election.
A sizeable number of supporters attended the event, and many students protested the event as well.
Culturas de las Razas Unidas, the student group that organized the Donald Trump Jr. protests, also led protests at Associated Students of MSU meetings after the organization invited the presidential nominees of the four most visible political parties, including Donald Trump himself, to campus a month prior.
Students voiced concerns about the organization’s decision to invite Trump, and controversy ensued when a CRU member was temporarily blocked and her critical comments temporarily deleted by unidentified ASMSU staff members.
A special meeting was held and a bill drafted to retract the letters failed to pass the general assembly. No candidates ended up accepting the invitations.