A statement by NYU spokesman John Beckman, Sr. VP for Public Affairs, on Milo Yiannopoulos' guest speaking appearance in a course taught by Professor Michael Rectenwald.

"At NYU, academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas are fundamental, guiding principles.  In line with these principles, faculty have wide authority over academic matters, such as their pursuit of their research and the conduct of their classes.

"Therefore, if a faculty member invites a speaker to his or her class, as Professor Michael Rectenwald did in this case, the assumption is that - barring insurmountable issues of public safety or disruption - the speaker will be able to appear in class and be heard.  This is true even when the speaker is controversial.

"Many institutions in our society speak with a single voice.  That is not true of universities.  The role of universities is to be a forum for many voices and many ideas, sometimes even ideas that are repudiated by much of the community.  A controversial speaker's appearance at a university must be understood not as the institution's endorsement of the speaker's views, but as the fulfillment of its commitment to the free exchange of ideas.  

"Mr. Yiannopoulos has espoused many ideas that are at odds with the values of the NYU community and are offensive to its members.  But as an invited speaker, he will be allowed to address Professor Rectenwald's class because even in the face of controversy and profound disagreement, adherence to the principles of academic freedom is a core value." 

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Milo Yiannopoulos was invited by Michael Rectenwald, a professor in NYU's Liberal Studies, to speak to his students for a regularly scheduled class of his. 

Professor Rectenwald did not seek approval of or notify the University or Liberal Studies of his invitation to Mr. Yiannopoulos.  The University learned about it from press accounts on Sunday, Oct. 28, in which Professor Rectenwald was quoted.

As it is a regular class session, it will not be open to the public or to the media.  It is open only to Professor Rectenwald; his invited speaker, Mr. Yiannopoulos; and the class' regular students. 

Press Contact

John Beckman
John Beckman
(212) 998-6848