Thursday, January 19, 2017
UNM tries to levy ‘free speech fine,’ GOP group says
The University of New Mexico has told the school’s College Republicans organization that it must pay a $3,400 security charge for a scheduled Jan. 27 campus appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos, a controversial speaker, provocateur and writer for right-wing Breitbart News.
Marina Herrera, president of UNM College Republicans, described the charge as a “free speech fine” and challenged the university’s action. She said the administration is simply attempting to censor a controversial speaker – a claim denied by a UNM spokeswoman.
Herrera said the group was informed about the cost of the event Friday evening despite planning the event for months. She said the organization doesn’t have access to that kind of money.
“To wait this long to inform us is either poor management or a deliberate attempt to silence speech at a public university,” Herrera told the
Journal in a statement. “Neither possibility is acceptable and we continue to hope that we can come to a workable solution.”
UNM spokeswoman Dianne Anderson said the group was given an estimated cost Jan. 10.
Anderson said the university is treating the Yiannopoulos event the same way it treats all campus events sponsored by student groups. She referred to a university policy that says a group hosting the event is “responsible for security costs based on the number of police and/or security officers required and the length of event, program or rental.”
On Tuesday night, Anderson couldn’t immediately provide security charges for other speaking events on campus. She did say “additional security” could be needed at the Yiannopoulos event, based on planned protests at UNM and previous protests at other campuses.