If a speaker you or your group considers problematic has been invited to campus

In general, it is better to let an event proceed than to call for it to be canceled. Shutting down controversial speakers not only goes against the principle of free speech but also often attracts greater attention to attention-seeking speakers. Consider other ways of voicing your dissent.


    The university can simultaneously permit controversial figures to speak and publicly distance itself from their views. If a speaker’s beliefs contradict the core values of the university, encourage the administration to make a statement saying so.

    See Statement on Milo Yiannopoulos at New York University


    Do not underestimate the power of the written word. A powerful essay condemning the invitee’s problematic views may ultimately outshine their lecture.


    A lecture can leave little room for the speaker’s views to be challenged. Ask organizers if they would consider an alternative model of presentation that would allow for more audience engagement and dialogue.

    See Middlebury’s “Planning Guide for Invited Speakers”


    Prepare questions ahead of time and, if the speaker takes questions from the audience, make a point of challenging them on the issues that concern you.

  • OR DON'T

    Among the most potent responses to controversial guest speakers are giving them little audience and depriving them of a sensational reaction.


    Students should never feel that they must remain silent on issues they are passionate about. Feel empowered to lead a peaceful protest against the speaker, stage a walkout, or plan a counter-event. Read up on your school’s policies so you can keep your protest within the proper regulations. 


    Exercise careful planning and caution when organizing a protest action of any kind.

    See How to plan a peaceful protest

External Resources