Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Security costs lower for somebody

A confused (or maybe that's just me) editorial in the Racine (WI) Journal Times:

Let ideas flourish on state campuses

This past weekend, UW-Madison officials said they would meet with University of Wisconsin College Republicans about a $1,293 bill from the university police. It was for extra security at an October speech by neoconservative David Horowitz. It was a large sum for a student group, the university admitted, and said security fees are charged at the discretion of police. A member of the College Republicans said the group had received a few e-mail threats before the Horowitz visit.

But fees are not equally applied. The UW-Milwaukee recently lowered its fees for the visit of a self-described former terrorist.

Guess who-ooo!
Colorado Professor Ward Churchill came to UW-Whitewater in 2005 to talk about his essay saying that people killed in the World Trade Center attack helped advance practices which inspired the attack. His speaking fee of $4,000 and security costs of $6,049 were covered by donations and fees from the two student groups which invited him. A review by the Wisconsin State Journal of 10 years of UW-Madison security charges found that 46 groups have been charged, including about $2,600 for liberal events, $8,700 for conservative events, $10,700 for apolitical or bipartisan events, and $4,900 for unclassified events. And leaving the billing up to police does give them the opportunity to discourage certain groups from inviting certain people.
I don't get it. How did "they" (the cops? UW-Whitewater?) lower their security fees for Churchill's appearance when costs for it were over $6000, but for Horowitz not quite $1300?

Anyway, after a boilerplate defense of "free" (as opposed to "stupid" or "worthless") speech by clucks like Churchill and Iran president Ahmadinejad:
A solution to the university dilemma lies in a simple policy change: the UW System should end extra security charges for speakers who come at the invitation of a university or its affiliated student groups. Perhaps there should be an extra student fee to help build a pool of money for extra security, but a total of about $27,000 in 10 years is a pittance which the system could easily cover on its own. It would be a very small price for advancing the principle of free speech on which universities are built.
Fine, fine.

Update: FIRE's The Torch liked the editorial, and indeed its conclusion is well-nigh unarguable; I just couldn't make out who in particular was being treated unfairly.

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