The Cost of an Unsafe Event

ASFA Spends Over $16,000 for Controversial Vlogger Laci Green

An ASFA council meeting took place last Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. Photo Vince Morello

Controversial YouTube blogger and sexual education activist Laci Green was paid $16,000 for speaking at a student-organized event at Concordia University last semester.

The exact amount was announced at the Arts and Science Federation of Associations’ meeting on Thursday night. ASFA General Coordinator Jenna Cocullo couldn’t reveal if the money was paid in American or Canadian dollars due to confidentiality agreements.

In October, former VP Internal Mariah Gillis invited Green to give a talk at Rad SexEd Week, a week-long series of talks and workshops centered on the topic of sexual education. Some students expressed their discontent toward Green’s talk, according to Katie Nelson, an ASFA councillor.

At the time of booking, Gillis approached the Centre for Gender Advocacy to ask them to co-sponsor the event but they refused “because of the controversies,” however, they weren’t opposed to bringing her in. “I did some research and felt conflicted about it, but I spoke about it with a few people and came to the conclusion that it was still a good opportunity,” Gillis said.

The YouTuber has been criticized for making islamophobic remarks, trans erasure comments and shaming several other groups through various social media platforms.

Screenshot of a Twitter conversation on March 15, 2013 about gender and sex.

Screenshot of a Twitter conversation on March 15, 2013 about gender and sex.

These concerns were noted but not addressed at the time, according to ASFA General Coordinator Jenna Cocullo. Approximately 250 students gave “a lot of positive feedback” about the speaker during her “Best Sex Ever!” talk, she said.

Although she knew about Green’s controversial statement, Cocullo said no one approached her to rethink booking the speaker. At the meeting, Nelson said “there were a lot of groups on campus that felt excluded and appalled” about welcoming Green at Concordia. She mentioned that a protest had been planned, but ultimately did not happen.

“Unfortunately, ASFA is ASFA,” Cocullo said. “There’s not much record and at the time there was no real oversight to what was being done so I take full responsibility on my part for that.”

Cocullo explained that the Dean of Students Office advised ASFA on the amount of the honorarium. Cocullo said that in the past, they had given speakers up to $8,000 in honorarium, although they do not have access to their financial records from past years.

Cocullo has expressed her desire to write an apology to the student body explaining the situation.

The Cali vlogger has over 1,000,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel and has posted almost 150 videos talking about sexual consent.

She has been criticized for using the word “tranny” in a video about “Haters” posted in 2009 as well as making several islamophobic, fatphobic and cissexism comments over the years.

“I was aware of the tranny comment but when I looked into her apology she had said she was young and she didn’t quite understand the connotations of what that word meant,” said Cocullo. “Then I took it as, everyone, when they are developing their idea, they make mistakes along the way.”

A tumblr page Your Fave Is Problematic lists and links to 26 controversial comments made by the YouTube blogger. Green has since deleted almost all evidence of the comments.

Screenshot of Laci Green’s tumblr comment on people’s reaction to new website updates.