UW students protesting pro-gun speaker

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- This is the first demonstration on campus since the UW Board of Regents passed a 'freedom of expression' policy that punishes students who disrupt other's rights to free speech.

The conservative student group Young Americans for Freedom invited pro-gun activist, journalist and author Katie Pavlich to speak at the UW's psychology building Tuesday night.

Young Americans for Freedom Chair Abby Streu says the group invited her to bring an often not heard viewpoint to campus. Pavlich will discuss firearms and self defense at the event titled "Trigger Warning: The Second Amendment and Self-Defense."

"It's really important that we discuss this and we have narratives flowing so that a bunch of different ideas can be determined and people can make up their own minds," Streu said.

Some students are protesting against her ideologies. The protest is titled "Cocks Not Glocks." The protest was organized by UW student Kat Kerwin. She says at the protest they will be wielding sex toys. She says it's ridiculous that people find sex toys on campus offensive but not the possibility of allowing guns on campus.

"We're seeing a lot more speakers be invited to campus that are hate speakers in some respect and just promoting ideologies that are not necessarily there to start an intellectual debate but more to divide campus," Kerwin said.

On Friday the UW Board of Regents passed a policy that would punish students who obstruct other's right to free speech. That policy says the second time a student is found responsible for disrupting speech, they will be suspended. The third time, they will be expelled. The Board of Regents says the policy is not intended to limit students' rights to protest.

The policy includes a list of actions they say can be constituted as a disruption. That includes action that obstructs or impairs a university authorized activity.

Kerwin says protesters do not plan on disrupting the event. But she says they want to make sure under the policy, their voices are still heard.

"People have reached out to me, people have been scared, they've been saying 'will we get in trouble for this now? Should we still do this?' and I think the reaction is, of course, we should. We need to be strong, we need to show that student power is out here and we're not going to be silenced," Kerwin said.

Streu says she believes the intention of the policy is to let students like Kerwin protest without silencing groups like hers.

"Unless you're in sighting violence, which we are not, you should be able to freely express your opinions on campus without being called divisive and having people try to shut down your event," Streu said.

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