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.
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.