Cal Poly’s speaker security spending policy remains unchanged after the university spent $140,000 over the past two years on security for controversial speaker Milo Yiannopoulos’ two visits. The resolution was discussed in the final meeting of the year until the senate ran out of time June 5.
Administration will continue to revise the security spending policy until Fall 2018, but the changes made in the most recent draft simply clarify the current pay structure; clubs pay for basic security and anything beyond that will be paid for by the university after they judge what security the event will need.
A proposal in the Academic Senate to share the security cost with hosting groups, with the university paying for security up to $5,000 and the hosting group to pay for any costs above that, has been brought by history lecturer Margaret Bodemer and psychology and child development professor Carrie Langner. Their concern is that provocative speakers will drain thousands of dollars away from campus programs. They are advising both President Armstrong and the committee of students, faculty and administration revising the policy. Bodemer said she is concerned with the resolution creating a pay-to-play situation on campus where only wealthier clubs can host speakers.
Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) President Riley Nilsen said she was concerned with the proposed change furthering inequity on campus and the possibility of preventing clubs from hosting guest speakers.
“The cap is not equitable for any student group, not just the Republican group, but MSA (Muslim Student Association) included, which discussed this resolution with me because they are mentioned in it, and the $5,000 is limiting for speakers that they might want to bring as well, so all clubs are impacted by this, not just one club,” Nilsen said.
Nilsen said more research should be done on saving money before a vote takes place. She mentioned the Stanford Speakers Bureau, a student-run organization at Stanford University which co-sponsors guests with clubs, as a possible alternative model.
If a cap were put in place, clubs would have little say over security costs and may not know the bill until after the event is planned. This could leave them with costs they could not pay.
Cal Poly College Republicans
Members of the Cal Poly College Republicans said if this resolution passes, only conservatives will be unable to bring speakers on campus because they said any guest with right-leaning ideology will bring violent protests.
“These security fees associated with our events are not the fault of us or our ideals, they are the fault of those who feel that violence is the only option that they have to express a disagreement with what our speaker believes,” College Republicans President and construction management junior Roberta Martin said.
Police Chief George Hughes said he brought in a SWAT team at the 2017 event with Yiannopoulos after a shooting at his engagement at Washington State might indicate a shooter when he spoke at Cal Poly. The Washington State shooter was a Yiannopolous supporter, according to his Facebook page, the Seattle Times reported.
Yiannopoulos’ visit this year at Cal Poly had only 25 protestors, consisting of people playing music and heckling.
Martin said College Republicans used to pay security for their own events when they required little security, but rising partisan opposition has raised the cost of security for conservative speakers regardless of the content of the speech.
A member of the Academic Senate disagreed.
“There are lots of really intelligent conservative speakers out there who choose to not be divisive,” philosophy professor Rachel Fernflores said. “They could come on campus and help elevate our discussion.”
Correction: This story previously stated that the Academic Senate will revise the security spending policy. It has been updated to state the administration will be revising the policy. In addition, a SWAT team was only used at the 2017 Yiannopoulos event, not in 2018. Both errors occurred in editing.