Young Americans For Liberty chapter hosts controversial event with Daily Caller editor

Amber Athey’s appearance sparked protests outside the event space

Young Americans For Liberty chapter hosts controversial event with Daily Caller editor

Daily Caller Reporter Amber Athey, left, sits next to AU graduate Annamarie Rienzi, right, during an event at AU on Oct. 24. 

Daily Caller editor Amber Athey spoke to American University students about due process in terms of sexual assault allegations on Oct. 23 for an event hosted by AU’s Young Americans for Liberty chapter.

The Daily Caller, a conservative publication, has been a source of controversy in the past, with the Southern Poverty Law Center stating that the website has a “white nationalist problem.” According to AU YAL, the event was meant to discuss the #MeToo movement, giving men and women an equal voice in legal proceedings and the recent hearings for Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

The event was criticized for its first title, “No, Don’t Believe All Women,” and was later changed to “Your Due Process.” One of the groups opposing the event and the speaker was AU Students Against Sexual Violence.

“American University Young Americans for Liberty’s choice to host this event suggests that they are not only unconcerned with being associated with this message that disenfranchises and silences survivors and the harm that this can cause them, but also that they are in approval of sexual violence such as rape, incest, and interpersonal violence,” the group said in a statement released online.

Additionally, AU Student Government Women’s Initiative also released an online statement to share resources and invited survivors to use their office as a safe space for the duration of the event. The group accused the event of “promoting the disempowerment and invalidation of survivors in sharing their stories.”

The YAL chapter released its own statement stating that it opposed “the current portrayal of our event.”

“[We] are deeply saddened and disappointed in the way our community has received and construed the event in a negative light,” they wrote, before adding that the name of the event would be changed but the content of the speech would remain the same.

Prior to the event, YAL had requested AU police to surround the event area to ensure Athey’s safety. At the event after an introduction, Athey came on stage and began speaking to the crowd, first saying that her speech was to carry on with the original name of “No, Don’t Believe All Women” and if anyone in the audience felt offended, they didn’t belong on a college campus.

Athey said false sexual assault claims can be damaging to a man’s professional and social life, bringing Kavanaugh into the conversation. She included specific examples, speaking mostly about the Duke University lacrosse team, Scottsboro Boys and Emmett Till.

As Athey’s speech carried on, students began to walk out. Around three students left and joined the growing group of protesters outside. The doors were shut by security as the group of protesters grew in number.

“I decided to join the protest because I’m concerned with this idea that sexual assault survivors are somehow lying and that men are somehow being falsely accused,” said junior Jubilee Witte. "If you look at the data, most sexual assaults and rapes actually go unreported, and even among those that are able to report, very few lead to convictions or actual punishments for the predator. This senseless faux-victimization of men is degrading to my sense of moral beliefs.”

Athey finished her speech, which was followed by a question and answer session hosted by AU graduate Annamarie Rienzi. In an interview on Fox News, Athey said the controversy surrounding her appearance was “ridiculous.”

“Unfortunately, this is par for the course on college campuses now,” Athey said. “We’ve seen the same thing [with] conservative speakers like Ben Shapiro, Milo Yiannopoulos back in the day. And it’s just really sad.”

Sam Romano, AU YAL president, said in a statement to The Eagle that while the group realizes that the event’s original title could have been viewed as inflammatory, they stand by clarifying the title “Your Due Process: #MeToo.”

“We do not support the provocative actions and inflammatory statements posted online by the speaker,” said the statement. “AUYAL does not want the speaker’s online language to detract from the importance of civil discourse surrounding due process, as this issue is a crucial part of AUYAL’s platform.”

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