Today, DePaul University can be described as a combination of Chicago style politics, Progressive Social Justice, and the general insanity that you find on any American College Campus. So it’s little wonder that they’re trying to sabotage our event with Milo Yiannopoulos.
As republicans on this campus—demonstrably one of the most liberal campuses in the nation—our club is faced by relentless pressure from other groups on campus on a daily basis.
Most of the recent turmoil has come from the administration itself, which ideally should act in the interests of all its students, without adherence to a political agenda. However, I now realize that this common sense rule is not practiced at DePaul.
In the past few weeks alone, our pro-Trump chalkings and other political messages have caused the administration to ban chalking political content on campus. At the same time, the administration has been censoring our club from using certain advertising and messaging on campus, effectively derailing a promotional campaign for an upcoming event with Milo Yiannopoulos.
Now, in the last week before bringing Milo to speak at our school, the administration has actively turned against our club in a blatant effort to disrupt every aspect of our event. It appears the administration is now trying to stop our event by any means necessary, which include falsifying, misrepresenting, and lying about DePaul regulations, rules, and event details.
Our club has planned for this event since February. There were no problems or warnings of problems from the administration for the past three months. The event was set up in the biggest room on campus, with a maximum capacity of 550 people. We were initially quoted for the whole room (250+ guests) to necessitate 8 security guards at a cost of $960, which would be adequate security for the full room with external guests. We were given a room reservation agreement that stated that we had the ability to make changes to the events until May 17th and specific policies that outlined what the University could do.
In this letter we were told the security ratio that the University could enforce was between 1:50 and 1:75. We were given a security policy of what the administration could require and not require as a part of the event. We were told the University could not make security requests more than 10 working days in advance of the event.
But now, just a few days before the event, the University has gone against their own policies they guaranteed at the beginning of our event planning, violating almost all the points outlined in the letter.
I was recently pulled into a meeting with members of the administration from the event planning division. During this meeting, I was informed that the University arbitrarily rescinded their sanction for the use of half of the room, halving our maximum attendance and initially blaming security concerns.
This created a huge problem. We were given a security quote for the entirety of our original room, which was within the 1:50 to 1:75 ratio the security policy prescribes. Their demand at this point in time put the ratio to 1:31—8 security guards for 250 people. This is drastically lower than the range that other DePaul groups are subject to, and is clearly against the anti-discrimination rules the university has in place.
The administration used this same tactic last year for an event with Steve Forbes hosted by DePaul Young Americans for Freedom. The administration limited the very same room to a seating of 250, setting aside the other portion that seats 300 for a dinner party of less than 20 people that, conveniently, never occurred. Just a coincidence, I’m sure!
The group had to tell their many of their RSVPs that there was no room for them, which undermined the success of the event.
For the sake of brevity, I cannot list every rule DePaul’s administration broke during this whole ordeal, but this is one of the most glaring examples of DePaul violating the rules at the expense of the College Republicans throughout the planning process. DePaul was fully aware that we had reserved the room for 550, and that we already had 400 RSVPs at the time that they demanded we cut attendance in half.
The administration knows they cannot outright cancel the event—as they want avoid a media firestorm. Instead, they want us to go and tell our RSVPs that their seats are no longer gauranteed. Because we would be going back on our promise, the DePaul community and other guests will lose faith in our credibility and end up not coming due to the uncertainty of being able to get into the event caused by overbooking.
Milo Yiannopoulos has seen this happen before on college campuses and has recently said the following:
This is a slimy tactic that I’ve noticed colleges using in an attempt to dampen the spectacle of the Dangerous Faggot Tour. Well, I’m not having it. I rarely speak to audiences of fewer than 500 these days and limiting me to a tiny lecture hall somewhere on the fringes of campus is like asking Mariah Carey to do a set in your local wine bar. It isn’t going to happen.
When our most recent meeting with the administration took place—where all of this was dropped on our lap at once—,the obvious question was asked: Why in the world did you decide to do this all of the sudden, a week and a half before the event?
They initially told me that they were concerned with how many people were coming to the event, saying that my initial quote requested security for 250 people or less. This was an absurd lie, and when I showed these administrators the quote for 250 people and above, they quickly moved the goalposts, asserting that we never discussed an external guest list (people outside of the DePaul community who wanted to come to the event), and that having an external guest list drastically changed the dynamic of the event.
When I showed them the email chain of the discussion involving an external guest list, they changed their story a second time. Now they argued that I had decided to open the room to more guests too close to the event date, and that the accommodation of pressing a retractable wall button for 30 seconds and placing an extra 300 seats down in a 4 hour time frame was, bizarrely, too drastic a request.
When I showed them the reservation form that said I could make changes until May 17th, they changed their argument yet again. They said that our speaker was exceedingly controversial and that in order to effectively control the event, they were going to restrict our audience. Again, this violates the security ratio policy explained to us in the room reservation agreement, which I pointed out to them. So far, their argument hasn’t changed — yet!
There are only two reasons as to why the administration has acted in this fashion: incompetence, or maliciousness. Personally, I find it hard to believe that administrators with years of experience in their jobs, with some having decades of experience, made such a disastrous string of errors, for such a high-profile event. This leaves one conclusion: political bias on campus against Republicans and conservatives.
The evidence is everywhere We see administrators via social media engaging DePaul students with support for left-wing causes. Moreover, the college Republicans have been told by sympathetic members of the Student Government Association that administrators told the Student Government Administration and other members of the DePaul Community to “ignore” our event, and our club.
This is typical of the treatment we have been receiving on this campus lately, where other groups such as the DePaul College Democrats and Students for Justice in Palestine are allowed to openly violate rules on campus, while making the DePaul College Republicans jump through impossible hoops to host a legitimate event.
After petitioning the University about the wanton disregard of its own policies, members of an opaque group called the “The University Panel,” which is composed of student leaders and administrator, and about which no specific information can be found, met to rule on our petition.
No member or faculty representative of the DePaul College Republicans was invited to attend this meeting to present our case. We petitioned to executive administrators that DePaul simply follow its own rules. Once again, we were disappointed with the ruling, because it still violates the rules set forth by the Administration that have been in place for years.
The administration’s ruling allows us to now use the full room, but under the condition that our original quote that we relied on for funding be changed from 8 security guards to 15. This increases our security costs from $960 to $1800 — an increase of $840.
This is against the rules barring additional security requests less than 10 days in advance of the event — yet even that isn’t the most damning part of the story. During February, when we gathered all of our quotes for the event and prepared a budget, the members of our club made a collective effort to fundraise $3,000 to cover the cost of the entire event.
We took considerable time out of all our schedules to ask students for money so that we could bring Milo to campus. We raised the $3,000 over the course of two months, with some members of our club travelling 40 miles in order to give a speech to hundreds of people so that they could have the opportunity to gather donations in a tip jar. It is outrageous that DePaul’s administration would tack on an additional $840 in security costs to a group of college students the weekend before our event, while sitting on a $43 million budget surplus.
This blatant refusal to reasonably resolve the conflict shows the executive administration’s profound partisan bias and its lack of regard for one of its most active clubs on campus. Without the required security fee, we will not be able to hold our event, and all of our hard work over the last three months will have gone to waste.
This is one of the few days in my four years as an undergraduate student that I am ashamed to call myself a member of the DePaul Community. I will not sit back and watch a club that I have been a part of for four years be silenced by this administration. The DePaul College Republicans are simply asking that the administration maintain its guarantees and promises. Our club has for every event we hold, and we are calling for equal treatment under, and fair enforcement of, DePaul’s policies. Whether or not we receive it remains to be seen.
Brendan Newell, is a senior studying Economics and Mathematics at DePaul and Chairman Emeritus of both the DePaul College Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org