The University of Victoria has cancelled a conservative activist from speaking at a “free speech club,” because there were "considerable concerns around safety and security for this event."
As a result of this, the university would only allow the event to continue if the undergraduate student who organized the event paid for a security detail in order to guarantee the protection of both the speaker and the university’s property.
The event in question was organized so that students could hear a conservative perspective over the recent #ShutDownCanada protests, which led to key areas of Canada’s infrastructure being blockaded. Aaron Gunn, a mainstream conservative commentator with a large online following, was given the opportunity to express this perspective by the university’s free speech club.
Despite Gunn’s moderate, centre-right ideology, a group of anti-pipeline activists soon bombarded social media with messages that accused Gunn of fascism and racism. Gunn’s lecture was soon halted by the university—going on to suspend the room permit and prohibit any promotion of the event.
In an email sent to the undergraduate student who organized the event, the university stated that their decision to suspend the event stemmed from their concern over safety and security.
The Post Millennial also learned that a University of Victoria spokesperson then told the student that they were expecting “large numbers” of protestors—so many, in fact, that the university’s campus security was unwilling to deal with the event.
As a result of this, the university told the student that they would only allow the event to proceed if he hired his own security detail to manage the protestors.
Speaking to The Post Millennial, Gunn stated that “as a University of Victoria alumni, I am distressed that my alma matter is, evidently, either unable or unwilling to uphold the basic human rights of its students to freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry. Universities are supposed to be a place where students are free to openly discuss ideas and debate opinions. Not fear for their safety because of the actions of a radical fringe.”
“UVic owes the event organizers, its students and the taxpayers of British Columbia an explanation. Are they censoring speech on campus? Cowering before the intimidation of a radical extremist minority? Or both? We want answers,” Gunn added.
"If someone has made a credible threat of violence against me or the event, UVic is duty-bound to go to the police and report it and to inform me about the threat. If no credible threat has been made, then they owe me and the broader community an apology."
The University of Victoria did not immediately respond to The Post Millennial’s request for comment.