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Iowa State President Admits: Last-Minute Security Fee Hikes Are ‘Standard Practice’

Iowa State University’s president admitted that last-minute security fee hikes were “standard practice” at the college, after administrators demanded that student organizers pay nearly $2,000 in security fees for MILO’s show at the last minute.

In an emailed statement from Iowa State University’s Office of the President, the college blamed the extra security fees on previous threats at MILO events, despite the fact that those cited happened around six months ago, with administrators only hiking up their previously determined security fees recently.

In their statement, the Office of the President referred Breitbart News to a section of their policy that states “Events may require additional facility staffing to address additional service request and/or risk management concerns at the expense of the organization hosting the event.”

“Physical altercations, bomb threats and threats of weapons violence at other universities where Yiannopoulos has appeared or been scheduled to appear have resulted in the need for the Memorial Union to require additional security for this event” continued the college, who linked Breitbart News to a story about the violent protesters at DePaul University, and a story about the threats made towards Florida Atlantic University— both of which were several months ago and were common knowledge before the college quoted their original security fee.

“Modifying the security requirements as the risk assessment changes closer to the event is standard practice for Iowa State University” they declared. “The event organizer had several phone calls with the Memorial Union Director during which he was told that additional security would be required. Again, as stated in the policy, event organizers are responsible for the costs of that support.”

The college finished their statement with an announcement, claiming “As a public university, Iowa State upholds the First Amendment and the protective scope of free speech. Our university supports open discussion and civil discourse; challenging different ideas and views is at the foundation of higher education.”

“I had paid in full September 7th an amount of $1070 out of my own pocket, which including the rental space, lighting, AV, tech, and the whole shabang” explained the student organizer in an email to Breitbart Tech on Wednesday. “Just yesterday, the event manager at ISU said the ISUPD is requiring 6 officers to secure the rental space which will cost additional but did not say amount. Today, the event manager sent out an email saying it will require an additional $1944”.

“As far as I can tell, no liberal events even required additional security let alone any at all” continued the organizer. “There is rarely any conservatives events that are held so its pretty obvious they are trying to cancel this event.”

After all the preparation they pull a move like this” he continued. “Where the heck is a college student going to get almost 2 grand a week before an event happens.”

As reported on Wednesday, “by imposing excessive fees on student groups, administrators at the University of Maryland are likely violating a 1992 Supreme Court ruling, which decided that public universities can not impose security fees based upon their perception of how attendees may react to the event.”

In Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement (1992), the Supreme Court determined that government actors—like public college or university administrators—may not lawfully impose security fees based on their own subjective judgments about “the amount of hostility likely to be created by the speech based on its content.” Such fees amount to a tax on speech an administrator subjectively dislikes, or subjectively believes is likely to cause disruption or violence.

Several universities have previously raised security fees in an attempt to derail MILO’s talks at universities around the United States, including the University of Maryland, where a MILO event was cancelled under similar circumstances in October.

You can read the full statement from Iowa State University’s Office of the President below:

Thank you for reaching out. The Friday, Dec. 9 event featuring Milo Yiannopoulos, writer for the conservative Breitbart News, has been arranged and funded by an organization that is not affiliated with Iowa State University or any recognized Iowa State student organization.

Iowa State’s Memorial Union has long been a venue that can be rented by private organizations and members of the public. Use of the Memorial Union is governed by specific guidelines that all users must follow. As with any event that occurs on campus, organizers must comply with legitimate requests necessary to protect university property and ensure the safety of event participants, as well as the campus community.

Support required by the Memorial Union for the Yiannopoulos event is consistent with the publicly stated policies and guidelines for all Memorial Union events. As per our practice, the event organizer was notified twice (via email – once before he made a down payment, once after making the payment) on Sept. 7, 2016 that the organization was expected to follow all Memorial Union policies, and directed to the MU website where the policies are posted. The posted policies state:

“Events may require additional facility staffing to address additional service request and/or risk management concerns at the expense of the organization hosting the event.”

Physical altercations, bomb threats and threats of weapons violence at other universities where Yiannopoulos has appeared or been scheduled to appear have resulted in the need for the Memorial Union to require additional security for this event. Modifying the security requirements as the risk assessment changes closer to the event is standard practice for Iowa State University. The event organizer had several phone calls with the Memorial Union Director during which he was told that additional security would be required. Again, as stated in the policy, event organizers are responsible for the costs of that support.

As a public university, Iowa State upholds the First Amendment and the protective scope of free speech. Our university supports open discussion and civil discourse; challenging different ideas and views is at the foundation of higher education.

Megan Landolt, Assistant to the President for Communications

Charlie Nash is a reporter for Breitbart Tech. You can follow him on Twitter @MrNashington or like his page at Facebook.

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