The scheduled speaker is Michael Knowles, a conservative political commentator (who has been labeled as "a dapper, lib-triggering troll" by Vanity Fair), host of a daily podcast on The Daily Wire, and a recent speaker at CPAC. But liberal professors at UB wrote the university president to request that he cancel the event. Meanwhile, at least one Ph.D. candidate has called on faculty and graduate students to go on strike over the event.
Michael McGonigle is director of public relations for Young America's Foundation (YAF), the organization hosting the event at University of Buffalo. He argues that people have nothing to worry about.
"It feels as if those on the Left are less and less open-minded to viewpoints that are different than theirs," he shares. "[At YAF] we're big believers in the First Amendment, in freedom of speech, and the open exchange of ideas. [But] far too often, what we're seeing now is those on the Left wanting to silence ideas that are different than their own."
He acknowledges that regardless what one believes, there will always be people who disagree. "But where we really like to make a difference is on the battlefield of ideas and in exchanging those different opinions," he adds.
In February, author and commentator Matt Walsh spoke at a YAF event at Stanford University. According to McGonigle, campus leftists expressed their displeasure by tearing down and burning flyers promoting the event.
"At each one of the YAF campus events, we have a Q&A session that's open for anybody to ask questions," he adds. "Unfortunately, a lot of people want to shout and burn flyers and protest – but they are not willing to have a conversation …. Maybe they're afraid their mind might be changed."