UVA Student Criticizes School Newspaper's Call to Cancel Pence Visit Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks at Stanford University. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
By Charles Kim | Friday, 08 April 2022 04:51 PM
A University of Virgina student is speaking out after the school's newspaper called for canceling a visit from former Vice President Mike Pence next week because of his "violent rhetoric."
In a March 17 Cavalier Daily editorial, the student-run newspaper said that a visit and speech from the former Republican vice president, scheduled for next Tuesday, should be canceled, and his "perspectives" should not be allowed on the campus.
"So-called 'perspectives' should not be welcomed when they spread rhetoric that directly threatens the presence and lives of our community members," the editorial said. "The LGBTQ+ individuals Pence has attacked, the Black lives he refuses to value and the successful stories of immigration he and the former president hope to prevent — these very people are our peers, our neighbors, and our community members. We refuse to condone platforming Pence."
A student at the university, however, is pushing back on the editorial, and said that the "cancel culture" at the school only goes one way, against conservatives.
"It's definitely a one-way street here at the University of Virginia and definitely at Yale and other college campuses. We've been seeing this trend commonly throughout campuses across the United States," Nick Cabrera, a student and chairman of the Young Americans for Freedom organization at the university, said on Fox News Friday. "If there's some speech that you disagree with as a leftist, you automatically go and you try to cancel it."
Cabrera, whose organization is bringing Pence in for its lecture series, is joined in supporting Pence's visit by both faculty at the university and the college's Board of Visitors.
"This speech-is-violence argument is not only wrong — no calls for violence will be issued April 12 — but also contradicts the letter and the spirit of the First Amendment, which generally creates space for a wide range of views to be expressed so long as the relevant speech does not incite violence," a letter signed by 17 senior university staff members said, according to The Guardian. "It is also a disservice to those who are the victims of actual physical violence — whether those injured and killed during the many civil rights struggles in American history, those who fought and died for our constitutional rights as members of our armed services or the brave people of Ukraine who are fighting and dying for their freedoms, including free speech."
In June 2021, the school's Board of Visitors formally adopted a policy of upholding the First Amendment and allowing free speech at the school.
"The University of Virginia unequivocally affirms its commitment to free expression and free inquiry. All views, beliefs, and perspectives deserve to be articulated and heard free from interference. This commitment underpins every part of the university's mission," the Statement on Free Expression and Free Inquiry said. "The university must not stifle protected expression, permit others to obstruct or shut down such expression, or regulate the tone or content of responses that stop short of interfering with others' speech or violating the law.
"Rather than seek to control speech or countenance its silencing, the university must promote values of mutual respect, while emphasizing that their vitality rests with the self-governance of speakers and listeners."