Students from the “Terps for Trump” organization at the University of Maryland are claiming that last minute changes made by administrators forced them to cancel an event featuring Breitbart Senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos.
Breitbart News spoke with Shubham Chattopadhyay and Matt Morris, who run the controversial “Terps for Trump” group at the University of Maryland about the recent security fee censorship of a MILO event that was planned for this week.
Because the University of Maryland security chief was away from campus for several weeks, the two claimed that they weren’t informed of required fee increase and venue change until a week before the event was set to occur.
“We couldn’t really get into contact with the security chief, and that’s what ultimately caused the late venue shift and us finding out what we actually had to spend,” they explained. “On GoFundMe, we had raised in like three days almost $2,000. If we had just a week more, we could have raised the entire thing.”
“We still had things on there, like a $500 charge to use a projector…they wanted a $2,000 deposit by that Wednesday,” Morris claimed, questioning the seemingly excessive fee to use the venue’s projector.
Although they had some success with their online fundraising campaign, the club’s leaders knew that raising $2,000 over a few days was highly unlikely. “At that point, we just decided to call the event [off]. We knew that it would disappoint a lot of people, but we just knew it wasn’t in the realm of possibility for us, financially… we got within $400 or $500 of our goal.”
“We are a small group, we aren’t backed by anyone…we don’t have any backing or support. Instead of fighting this, we decided it would be easier to just end it,” Morris claimed.
The University of Maryland could be violating a 1992 Supreme Court ruling regarding the subjective increase of security fees.
In Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement (1992), the Supreme Court decided that government officials were not permitted to vary security fees for political events based upon an official’s subjective determination of “the amount of hostility likely to be created by the speech based on its content.”
As a public university, the University of Maryland is bound by the ruling in the 1992 Supreme Court case, which determined that increasing security fees based upon the anticipated hostility of an audience rather than the content of the speaker’s message is a tax on speech and therefore a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.
Both of the club’s leaders emphatically argued that administrators increased security fees based upon a subjective determination of the amount of hostility created in response to the event’s content, rather than the content itself.
“That is exactly what it was,” they claimed. “They had said because the event was set to take place directly below where students have lockers, they couldn’t properly secure that area and prevent the possibility of a bomb threat. Because it’s a high traffic area for students.”
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity for Breitbart. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org