Citing security concerns, Boston University has cut by half the potential audience for a scheduled Ben Shapiro campus speaking event and is demanding an exorbitant security fee from the conservative group hosting the event.
Boston University Young Americans for Freedom (BU YAF) told The Daily Wire Wednesday that they were informed in an email this week from Boston University’s Assistant Dean of Students, John Battaglino, that they must move the planned speaking event with the Daily Wire editor-in-chief to a location that can accommodate only about half the audience the previous location could hold. The university is also requiring the student organization to pay more than $12,000 in security fees administrators insist are necessary to make sure the community is safe during the event.
In a report on the incident published Wednesday, YAF spokesman Spencer Brown provides some key takeaways from the 30-point list of “considerations, costs, and conditions” for the Shapiro event Battaglino sent to the organization. Among the stipulations presented in the list is the requirement that the event be relocated from a 1,500-person venue to one that only seats 700, the limitation of potential participants to members of the BU community who reserve tickets — rather than the event being free and open to the public, as originally proposed — and security fees totaling $12,720 the university expects YAF to cover.
The conservative student organization notes that in the university’s explanation for the exorbitant security charges, administrators cite the need to “provide security for protestors,” but notably do not cite the need to protect YAF or Shapiro.
YAF lists some of the security measures the university says it must take to host the speaking event from the mainstream conservative speaker, a result of repeated instances of left-wing violence at such events on campuses across the country. Among the expenses the university says it will incur is paying for the services of 40 university police officers to maintain safety involving the event, four additional officers to direct traffic, 16 contracted security officers, and 2 explosive ordnance disposal K9 units.
“All this for an event that has yet to receive a threat because it hadn’t previously been publicly announced,” Brown writes. “All because the powers that be at Boston University have decided Ben Shapiro and his mainstream conservative ideas pose so great a threat as to be unmanageable in the planned setting.”
In a statement to YAF, BU YAF President Diana Soriano condemned the university’s unreasonable requirements for the event as yet another example of administrators promoting the suppression of free speech on campus based on the threat of violence by “leftist agitators.”
“We’re a bunch of college students who shouldn’t be put on the hook for what administrators are worried Antifa might do,” Soriano told YAF. “Boston University’s decision only encourages leftist agitators to continue their intolerant and often violent opposition to conservative events. If even the chance of Antifa activity can scare a school into charging unaffordable security fees that force the cancelation of an event, Antifa gets what it wants without lifting a finger.”
Brown issued his own statement, decrying the response of the administration to the fear of leftist violence as “egregious” and the disingenuous suppression of conservative speech as “straight out of the leftist playbook.”
Shapiro’s events have been repeatedly targeted by left-wing protesters and sympathetic administrators, who have allowed threats of violence to curb conservative speech.
“As per the usual arrangement, it appears that conservatives are to be penalized for the not-even-yet-threatened misbehavior of intolerant Leftists,” Shapiro told The Daily Wire Wednesday in response to Boston University’s demands of YAF. “The heckler’s veto is alive and well.”
UPDATE: YAF informed The Daily Wire Wednesday that the university has now agreed to wave the security fee. The university is still requiring the event to be held at the smaller location.