UC Berkeley’s administration has replied to the recent letter sent to them by Berkeley College Republicans regarding the security fee for Breitbart Senior editor MILO’s event at the university on February 1st.
Breitbart reported this week that Berkeley College Republicans drafted a letter to Berkeley College administration relating to the recent $6000 security fee imposed on MILO’s February 1st event at the college.
“Dear Chancellor Dirks, on behalf of the Berkeley College Republicans (“BCR”), we write in response to the University’s arbitrary and excessive, estimated $6,370 security fee demand for the Milo Yiannopoulos event in Pauley Ballroom on February 1st. In effect, the University is restricting BCR’s constitutional rights to free expression on campus by charging fees for unsolicited security that amount to a tax on a “controversial” speaker. We are writing to request that this fee be waived in its entirety. The United States Supreme Court has held that “state colleges and universities are not enclaves immune from the sweep of the First Amendment.” Healy v. James, 408 U.S. 169, 180 (1972).”
Further excerpts from the letter can be read here. Today Berkeley administration replied to the College Republicans.
“Dear Berkeley College Republicans: “This responds to your letter to Chancellor Dirks which was sent by email to him and several other UC Berkeley administrators on January 11, 2017.” begins the letter,
The First Amendment does not immunize event sponsors from the requirement to reimburse the University for the reasonable cost of providing basic event security, so long as security fees charged are not arbitrary or content-based. (See Cox v. New Hampshire, 312 U.S. 569, 577 (1941).) It is the regular practice of the University to charge event sponsors such fees based on content-neutral factors such as the venue, the type of event, the number of anticipated guests, whether tickets are sold, and if the event is open to non-university guests.
The University has routinely and neutrally applied this policy to charge sponsors comparable fees for appearance of a wide range of speakers, including Anita Hill, Lewis Farrakhan, Will Farrell, Rand Paul, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and the Dalai Lama, and your claim that “Rio the best of BCR’s knowledge” security fees have not been charged for similar events is baseless. Similarly baseless is your contention that the University’s failure to give BCR special favorable treatment with regard to security fees is motivated by a desire to block your event.
This charge is especially galling in light of the fact that UCPD and LEAD Center staff have, as you are well aware, dedicated substantial resources and many hours—including during the holidays and personal vacation time–to working with BCR to allow your event to proceed smoothly, while at the same time BCR leadership has frequently abused these efforts by being late for prearranged meetings and conference calls or entirely unresponsive.
You have also expressed concern about BCR’s ability to pay the basic security charge and asked that the normal security fee charged to all other event sponsors be waived for BCR. The University understands that BCR has sold 500 tickets for this event. The University is not in a position to treat BCR more favorably than other event sponsors nor to impose on the campus the out of pocket costs incurred by UCPD to provide basic support to student organizations’ revenue-generating events. The LEAD Center has provided BCR advice about additional revenue sources which may provide options for BCR to find funding.
UCPD needs to receive a signed copy of the Police Services Request form promptly in order to approve the event from a security standpoint. If BCR decides that it cannot afford the event and must cancel, the University would appreciate receiving notice of that decision so that it can discontinue expending public resources on the planning process.
Berkeley Assistant Vice-Chancellor Dan Mogulof also contacted Breitbart to “stress and reiterate that the security estimates for this event were compiled not by the campus administration, but by sworn officers—law enforcement professionals——in the University of California Police Department based on neutral, objective criteria. Just like every other student-hosted event.”
When asked for comment, Troy Worden of Berkeley College Republicans stated, “The University of California, Berkeley makes a mockery of the the ideals of the Free Speech Movement by responding to the Berkeley College Republicans in so self-righteous and self-serving a letter. They belittle our efforts to work with them to provide the security they demand for our event, and then bewail the extra hours they have to put in to systematically snuff out our right to free speech. Let this much be clear: the university is imposing a comically large financial burden on our club for security that we did not request in the first place.”
Worden continued, “It should be the burden of the university to ensure the constitutionally-protected political speech of all students – including conservatives such as the Berkeley College Republicans – is safeguarded from the mischief and violence of protesters. The lines are clearly drawn: the administration is bowing down to the demands of radical anti-fascists and liberal university professors at UC Berkeley rather than treating all student groups equally. We will unceasingly pursue legal action to secure our rights in this matter.”
MILO’s event is still currently set to take place on February 1st at Berkeley University.