In July, the University of California, Berkeley, initially attempted to prevent Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro from speaking there in September, claiming they were “unable to identify an available campus venue.” That ultimately led to a back-and-forth culminating in the city of Berkeley shelling out $600,000 for security for the event, with concrete barriers erected and 700 police officers present to guard the city from riots.
They never learn.
UCLA, which is supposed to host a speech by Shapiro on November 13, has informed the student Republican group sponsoring the event that they will have to cough up exorbitant security fees if many people come to the event who are not UCLA students, faculty, and staff.
As a result, on Monday, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sent a letter to UCLA requesting that the university rescind the requirement and modify the policy.
ADF wrote, “The Supreme Court has said, ‘speech cannot be financially burdened, any more than it can be punished or banned, simply because it might offend a hostile mob.’ Imposing security fees based on the perspective offered by Bruin Republicans and its speaker is viewpoint discrimination. Thus, the University is violating Bruin Republicans’ First Amendment rights.”
ADF reports: “UCLA admits that there’s ‘no way’ the student group will be able to afford the fees if charged — fees of the kind that the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear violate the First Amendment. The school didn’t impose the same requirement on other events that attracted large outside audiences. In 2014, it paid $300,000 to Hillary Clinton to speak at the school. Of the 1,800 tickets for that event, 1,400 were sold to the highest bidder (mostly off-campus purchasers) and only 400 were given away to students.”
ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer pointed out, “As the U.S. Supreme Court has made very clear, public universities can’t enact policies that effectively stifle free speech just because administrators fear protestors might show up. The reason for that is simple: Speech isn’t free if all it takes to silence it is for someone else to object. The high court has specifically stated that security fees, such as the ones at UCLA, aren’t constitutionally permissible.”
The UCLA Policy on Costs of Safety Services at Campus Events Sponsored by Registered Campus Organizations should have been applied to every campus event hosted by every student organization, including the roughly 1,200 student organizations hosting thousands of events every year, but it has only been applied four previous times; two of those were Bruin Republican events.
ADF pointed out:
Mike Cohn, Director of Student Organizations, Leadership & Engagement, acknowledged that the policy had been “dormant” for a while. But like a ghoul in the night, the University decided to resurrect the policy so that it can haunt its favorite target, Bruin Republicans, because the University has determined that other members of the campus community may object to the content and viewpoint to be expressed at the Event. Here, the University assessed the security fees based on the viewpoint of Bruin Republicans’ event and speaker. Mr. Cohn is requiring Bruin Republicans, and its officers, to agree to pay some unspecified amount — which he acknowledges will be so large that they will be unable to pay — because Shapiro’s topics and views are controversial.