Dear Mr. Yiannopoulos:

Please knock it off.  Your antics are disrupting the ability of my daughter, a freshman at UC Berkeley, to accomplish what she is there for: to go to class, write papers, prepare for midterms, and learn.  You have gotten in the way of all that, for pretty much nothing.  Not to mention the waste of limited funds.  Please take your act elsewhere so she can get back to the educational business at hand.

Your actions have disrupted academic life for my daughter – and thousands of other students at Berkeley.  As you planned, ever since you announced your big Free Speech events, the University had to take steps to prevent possible violence.  The University did the right thing: it let your event go forward.  Given what happened last time you appeared, however, the University was forced to take steps to prepare for your appearance.  Barricades and metal detectors were installed.  Areas of the campus were closed off.  Plenty of police were called in.  Some classes even were canceled.

The timing of your appearance was really lousy.  My daughter has two papers due and a midterm.  She has lots of studying to do, with many trips back and forth from her dorm to classrooms and libraries.  With all the commotion, she has had to figure out ways to get to and from campus,  finding circuitous routes that aren’t blocked and to avoid closures.  She had to account for the possibility of protests on campus and on the streets.

Papers and midterms require hard work and there is already plenty of anxiety.  My daughter and the thousands of others just like her don’t need this additional disruption.  They don’t need to have to worry about how to get in and out of school because barricades have been put up and areas have to be closed.  It is not helpful to have classes canceled.

I  know you may not know how hard college can be, given that you dropped out of the University of Manchester and were expelled from Wolfson College.  Academic life apparently was not for you.  For serious students, however, college is difficult and demanding and stressful.

You may say it is not your fault that classes were canceled – that someone else made the decision to cancel classes.  But you were hoping for this result.  You knew what the reaction would be since we have already been through this once.  You came to the campus and there was violence.  Unfortunate as that is, you knew there would be a risk of  it again if you came back.  Nevertheless, you decided to appear again.  You therefore are responsible.  You put the events into motion and you knowingly and willfully caused the disruption to occur.

At least it all could have been partly worth it if your appearance was truly meaningful.  At a minimum, you would have added to the firmament of ideas.  Then we could say your appearance was part of the educational mission by exposing students to important ideas.

But that has never been your point.  Leaving aside my personal view that you have little of substance to say, this event was just a set-up from the start.  It was designed to promote you, so you could continue to be a “provocateur,” whatever that exactly means.  It wasn’t serious to begin with.  The big names you said would be there – Coulter, Bannon etc. – never planned to attend.  At the end of the day, you came to the campus, went through the metal detector, made some muffled comments to a small group of “supporters,” and left after 15 minutes.  The disruption was real, but your event wasn’t.

I know you won’t care about this either, but your actions divert scarce dollars from being spent on education-related activities at a difficult time for public universities.  Campus Spokesman Dan Mogulof said your 15-minute appearance on the steps of Sproul Hall cost UC Berkeley an estimated $800,000 in security and related expenses, and that it was “the most expensive photo op in the university’s history.”  There are much better ways to spend $800,000 than to protect you while you take selfies at Sproul Plaza.

So again, Mr. Yiannopoulos, I ask you to please knock it off.  Take your act elsewhere.  Leave Berkeley alone.  I imagine finding other locations and stirring things up is difficult for you right now, given your departure from Breitbart, the litigation with Simon & Schuster over your book advance, and the Conservative Political Action Committee’s cancellation of your speaking engagement.  Berkeley remains one of the few places where you can continue to try to get your name out there through provocation, and in fact Berkeley is a pretty easy target.

Nevertheless, I ask you to move on.  The next round of papers will be due soon and finals are just around the corner.  I’m hoping students will be able to get to class and to the library without finding classes canceled and without having to dodge barricades protecting your “right” to take a selfie.


A Cal Parent