Controversial rector candidate and former editor of Breitbart News, Milo Yiannopoulos, held a Q&A via YouTube live stream on 18 March. The live stream was accessible through a link available on request with a student email account, also shared on 4chan’s “/pol/ – Politically Incorrect” board. Scheduled to start at 5pm, it got underway at 5:25pm.
The live stream was done in lieu of appearing at hustings as Yiannopoulos claimed the Student Representative Council (SRC) had denied him permission to appear via Skype in an attempt to restrict his free speech. However, it was the case for all absent nominees, who were instead permitted to send a representative in their place. Lady Hazel Cosgrove, John Lindberg, Thomas Hind, Professor Jordan Peterson, and Brace Belden all opted to do this.
He defended his comments suggesting he supported banning the Muslim Students Association, stating that “violence against women and gays is part of mainstream Muslim society… I am fundamentally and ferociously pro-free speech, but I do not think the Muslim Society shares these values… if I was running a private university I would consider not allowing a Muslim society on campus but I’d need to think about it… I will not seek to shut the Muslim Students Association down unless it can be shown that they are inviting pro-ISIS or homophobic speakers onto campus.” However, he also later stated “I’m not for banning, I want to free everything up”. In response to accusations that he did not take things such as rape seriously he said, “rape is the worst thing you can do to somebody,” and jokingly added “except maybe stealing their shoes.”
Throughout the video Yiannopoulos took aim at his opponents, specifically human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar, who he accused of lying about experiencing racial insults and labelling him “an opportunist”. He also spoke of fellow rector nominee Vince Cable, who he said was “justifiably destroyed at the last elections” for lying to students about tuition fees. He also accused the SRC of wanting fewer students to vote in elections in order to get more “far-left candidates elected”, and said that the members of the SRC were the least competent people to be in their positions and had “too much time on their hands”.
The Queen Margaret Union (QMU) was also the target of criticism. The union recently refused to allow Yiannopoulos to speak at the venue because his previous comments breached the union’s Equality and Diversity policy.
On the details of actions he would take as rector, Yiannopoulos pledged to visit the campus three times a year to host town-hall meetings and debates with students, and host parties in the city afterwards. Yiannopoulos insisted that he would be represented year-round by a full time employee to take students concerns and thoughts.
Yiannopoulos elaborated that one of his main policies as rector would be to extend the currently established “Privilege Grant” to the University of Glasgow. This financial grant is available exclusively to white men that Yiannopoulos defined in the Q&A as “the most educationally underprivileged group”. The grant would be given to four students who meet the criteria and would amount to £2,500 a year, for the three year term.
Yiannopoulos further stated that he would review the University’s Equality and Diversity policy, and campaign for the removal of “leftist politics not designed to protect people.” On the policy, he commented that the University should not deal with claims by students of rape and sexual assault and that such matters should be reported to police, accusing the University of “interfering in student’s sex lives”.
Throughout the Q&A Yiannopoulos reiterated his support for freedom of speech, and stated that university should be a place “of academic rigour and fun.” He further commented that he would be an activist rector and would regularly take on the University, noting the problems with the revolving door in the library, eduroam and the “hideous” Boyd Orr building.
He reiterated his plans to return to UC Berkeley, where he was recently prevented from speaking by anti-fascist protesters, saying “we’re not afraid… if you try this stuff we’re not gonna let it fly.” He also said he wanted to show “mischief, ridicule, and provocation as legitimate tools of intellectual inquiry, debate and entertainment.”
Yiannopoulos has announced that he intends to host a second Q&A session at 7pm this evening.