Guest speaker discouraging DEI initiatives on campus, draws controversy from students

The Iowa Young Americans for Freedom chapter hosted an event with Allen West, former representative from Florida, to criticize critical race theory.


Lilly Stence

Protesters and fans listen to Allen West speak at a Young Americans for Freedom event on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022.

Lauren White, Politics Reporter

Allen West, retired Lt. Col for The Army, visited the University of Iowa Wednesday evening where he said focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion is bad for the country. He was welcomed by the Young Americans for Freedom Iowa chapter the day after the organization had a booth “debunking” critical race theory, while other students came to the venue to show their disapproval of having West speak on campus.

“Equality of outcomes is when someone else is making a decision about where you can go and what you can end up being,” West said. 

West is the executive director of the American Constitutional Rights Union and has been a vocal critic of the Black Lives Matter movement. The union has a mission of protecting the constitutional rights of Americans and stands for free speech, religious liberty, the Second Amendment, and national sovereignty.

Around 105 people attended the event, with three people protesting it outside the doors of Trowbridge Hall and about 10 protestors sitting in on the lecture with signs calling West a war criminal and a member of the alt-right. Protesters interrupted the event with shouts of “Boo!.”

Young Americans for Freedom is a campus organization that highlights limited government, individual freedom, and traditional values.

During the event, West criticized campus equity initiatives like the DEI message that the university stands for and the framework of critical race theory.

“We start to believe that we are meant to all be equal, we’re not all meant to be equal,” West said. 

West also claimed white privilege is not real for Americans, arguing that everyone in America is privileged.

Keith Chiavetta,the advisor for the Young Americans for Freedom Iowa chapter,  said the university does not provide conservative voices on campus. Previously, the chapter hosted figures such as former Vice President Mike Pence, and Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, and Kellyanne Conway. 

“We have a single threaded message that comes through all the time at this university and it’s one vision, it’s one perspective, alternative facts are not respected,” Chiavetta said. 

Sophie Eanegas attended the event and held a protest sign in the back of the lecture room. She said she wanted to protest the event to discourage “the spreading of misinformation of critical race theory and equality.” 

“These alt-right ideals that are talking points for known racists, and white supremacists is not a good look for the university,” Eanegas said.