A surprising victory came out of the University of New Mexico this week after the school’s president waived a massive security fee for an event featuring Breitbart Senior Editor MILO, citing concerns that the fee might infringe upon student’s right to free speech.
University of New Mexico President Chouki Abdallah released a statement Wednesday evening in which he declared that the university would be waiving the massive $3,500 fee that it had imposed upon the organizers just days before the event was scheduled to take place.
“I am directing the immediate suspension and application of that portion of the policy that results in fees for security and police protection, pending a thorough policy review,” he wrote.
President Abdallah and the University of New Mexico’s Regent, Thomas Clifford, announced that the policy was revoked in an effort to ensure that free speech at the public university was upheld as a right for students of all political persuasions.
This news suggests that The Dangerous Faggot Tour is making great strides in forcing universities to rethink their policies so that all students are treated fairly. Conservative and libertarian students largely feel unwelcome on college campuses. Their ideas and values are often treated with hostility by faculty members. Acts of political discrimination are often ignored by administrations. And recently, administrations have attempted to censor events by imposing massive last minute security fees on students potentially with the knowledge that students won’t be able to raise the funds.
I have addressed the issue of security-fee censorship several times, making a point in every instance to address the legality of public institutions imposing security fees based upon the perceived inability of a student body to behave when faced with non-progressive content rather than imposing the fees based upon the content of the lecture itself. The practice of punishing students at public universities with massive security fees because progressive students pose a security threat is illegal as decided in the 1992 Supreme Court Case, Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement
Despite this progress, conservative and libertarian students still often meet on campus in secrecy. They conduct their relationships with conservative and libertarian faculty on personal email accounts rather than the university email system due to the fear that they might be punished socially, professionally, or academically, if their political views were to leak to the community. At Bucknell University, a small liberal arts institution with a little over 3,500 students, I was able to count the number of students that publicly announced their support of President Trump in his run for the White House on one hand. Conservative and libertarian professors soften their voices and shut their office doors before ever expressing a single thought that goes against the progressive orthodoxy.
This is not acceptable. Administrators must understand that they’ve participated in the cultivation of an environment so regressive and toxic that even moderate Jeb Bush conservatives are fearful of being honest about their politics. It is an absolute tragedy that in the place that is supposed to be a laboratory for all ideas, students and faculty must hide their politics as a safeguard to ensure that they won’t face serious repercussions.
Despite this, President Abdallah’s commitment to ensuring that his students will be able to hold political events on campus regardless of whether or not the campus left chooses to act out is a sign that we have made progress in our efforts to return American universities to being a laboratory where ideas of all kind, political and other, can be explored and developed. Hopefully, this is only the beginning of our university’s recommitment to the principles of open and free discussion.
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