College Backs Down From Plan To Charge Conservatives ‘Security’ Fee To Host Michael Knowles

University of Wisconsin tried to punish conservatives for the fact that liberals regularly commit crimes to silence opposition
Knowles protests.
The Daily Wire

The University of Wisconsin-Madison backed down from plans to charge a conservative group a special “security” fee for bringing Daily Wire host Michael Knowles to campus, seemingly rewarding lawless protesters with a heckler’s veto by making conservatives pay for police to stop leftists from committing crimes.

Ahead of Knowles’ speech on campus Wednesday, college administrators told Young Americans for Freedom that they would have to pay $4,271.17 for six police officers, a metal detector, and other security-related costs–even charging “sales tax” despite being seemingly inapplicable. The university did not return a request for comment from The Daily Wire, but reversed its decision on Monday afternoon in the face of accusations that what it was doing was “unlawful.”

The university has not billed student groups for “security” for hosting speakers in the past, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) and the Mountain States Legal Foundation wrote, saying the costs are “unlawful.”

The charge was purportedly the result of a “risk assessment worksheet” that said there were “significant security/safety problems at event sponsor events (in last 2 years).”

That may be a reference to the fact that leftists committed large-scaled vandalism, with profane messages spray-painted on prominent historic buildings, when YAF brought another Daily Wire host, Matt Walsh, to campus in 2022. University police have video of that occurring, yet chose “not to prosecute or otherwise punish the perpetrators, and UWPD has refused to release public records related to the incident to YAF,” the letter to Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin said.

Also contributing could be the fact that last April, pro-transgenderism protesters allegedly committed crimes including igniting an “incendiary device” to derail a speech by Knowles at the University of Pittsburgh, after plotting to “shut it down.” Two people were later charged by the federal government with conspiracy and obstruction of law enforcement. One of them, Brian DiPippa, was also charged with using an explosive to commit a federal felony.

In other words, the university was punishing conservatives for the fact that liberals committed crimes to silence or victimize them — all while not punishing those liberal wrongdoers, the letter said, adding that such a policy encourages more left-wing crimes.

On Monday afternoon, UW backed down from the demand without conceding any mistake or pledging reforms.

“Solely to ensure that the speaker event moves forward in this tight timeframe, the contract is being revised to remove charges related to the extensive security protocols,” Nancy Lynch, UW-Madison’s vice chancellor for legal affairs, wrote.

UW did not bill YAF for security for the Walsh event or for a similar one with Daily Wire co-founder Ben Shapiro. There is no indication it has charged left-wing speakers for security, including the “controversial” Bradley Manning, a felon who stole classified documents, or Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

“According to WILL’s own public records requests, UW-Madison did not charge controversial author Nikole Hannah-Jones (author of the historically inaccurate 1619 Project) for security in 2022—in fact, UW-Madison actually paid her $55,000,” the legal group’s letter said.

The letter from YAF’s lawyers said UW “apparently believes that Knowles’s speech presents more of a security concern exactly because of the content of his speech, and the public reaction to that speech. But a policy like UW’s is invalid if it ‘ties the amount of the fee to the content of the speech.'” It warned that “individual UW actors may be personally liable for their involvement in these constitutional violations.”

The University of California, Berkeley similarly tried to charge YAF for security aimed at restraining leftist would-be lawbreakers, and “ultimately settled with YAF by paying $70,000 in attorney fees and agreed to revise campus policies for hosting speakers,” the letter said.

Knowles, ironically, authored a book on censorship called “Speechless.” His speech at Madison is a pro-life address called “The Case Against Murder.”

“Freedom of speech is not negotiable,” Dan Lennington, WILL Deputy Counsel said in a statement. “Charging a conservative group thousands of dollars for a so-called ‘controversial’ speaker is ridiculous, especially since UW-Madison routinely hosts—and even pays—controversial leftwing speakers. UW-Madison should be happy to support multiple viewpoints and a robust exchange of ideas.”

UW is a public institution that says it “values freedom of expression as an essential part of its educational mission” and helpfully explains to its students, “What is the First Amendment?”

DiPippa, the man charged with allegedly using an explosive device at Knowles’ University of Pittsburgh speech, remains in jail while awaiting trial, despite a letter from a “DEI coach and consultant” named Nancy Kahn, who wrote to the judge that he should be released because he is “self aware of his male privilege.”

Kahn, who told the judge her pronouns were “she/her + BIPOC,” is Managing Principal of the Across Differences Coaching Institute and Consultancy and said she worked with DiPippa at talk radio station KPFA.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  College Backs Down From Plan To Charge Conservatives ‘Security’ Fee To Host Michael Knowles