Security for the Fake News Panel April 26, which included controversial alt-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, cost Cal Poly and the California State University (CSU) system an estimated total of $86,200. This is more than University Police Chief George Hughes’ estimate of $55,000 to $65,000 which he predicted at the Associated Students, Inc. Board of Directors meeting April 18.
Approximately $46,600 of this total came from Cal Poly University Police and $39,600 from the CSU system. This total is about $31,000 more than the cost for Yiannopoulos’ visit to Cal Poly in January 2017.
“The most significant increase to security costs this year was for rental and set-up/tear-down of the temporary fencing and barricades at the front, side and rear of the event venue,” university spokesperson Matt Lazier wrote in an email to Mustang News.
According to Lazier, the area around Mott Athletics Center that had to be fenced off was larger than the area that had to be fenced off in front of Alex and Faye Spanos Theatre in 2017, resulting in the need for additional equipment and labor.
Cal Poly’s portion of the cost includes an estimated $10,000 for food and lodging for out-of-town police.
Lazier said these costs covered temporary fencing around Mott Athletic Center, increased law enforcement and security staffing around the venue and throughout campus, ambulances on standby and equipment, staff overtime, and student employee costs for facilities set up around the site and expansion of the University Police Department (UPD)’s nighttime safety escort and other campus safety programs.
Security for this event included 129 officers. These officers included 17 university police officers, 54 officers from other CSU campuses and 58 officers from different law enforcement agencies around the county. Of these officers, 60 were on standby throughout the night.
“I am grateful to our [UPD] for its thorough planning and to all the officers and other campus employees who worked to ensure our campus stayed safe and calm,” Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong said. “I am also grateful to our campus community members who expressed their opinions about this event peacefully or who chose to partake in other campus events and offerings.”
This year’s event was lightly protested but many students opted to attend alternative events. There were about 25 protesters as opposed to the 50 to 60 protesters at Yiannopoulos’ last appearance at Cal Poly. There were no arrests and no reports of fights or damage.
The panel was sponsored by the Cal Poly College Republicans and the Cal Poly chapter of Turning Point USA. Under current Cal Poly free expression policies, student organizations are only responsible for fees connected to normal security required for an event of similar size and location, a trend among other universities across the country. This policy is currently under review.