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Harvard is spending ‘upwards of $10,000’ on security for each controversial speaker event

Doesn’t include what it pays its own campus cops

Students and community members who can’t control themselves at campus events are forcing Harvard University to shell out on event security.

The Harvard Crimson reports the Ivy League school is spending “upwards of $10,000 per event” that features a controversial speaker such as libertarian social scientist Charles Murray.

The Cambridge Police Department charged the university $12,000 to protect the co-author of The Bell Curve, which is loathed but largely unread by Murray’s critics, so he could speak about his most recent book Coming Apart without getting attacked by angry mobs who insist the father of biracial daughters is a white nationalist.

“Harvard administrators were willing to pay a premium to prevent a similar outcome” to that which greeted Murray at Middlebury College last year, when a violent mob chased him around the speaking venue and sent a professor to the hospital:

Over the past semester and a half, three highly polarizing figures—Murray, ex-pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos—have visited Cambridge, each drawing scores of protesters and a heavy police presence. At the DeVos event on Sept. 28, for example, at least 15 cops—some with bomb-sniffing dogs—surveilled the roughly 300 demonstrators outside while nearly a dozen officers monitored the secretary’s speech indoors.

The Crimson surmised the $10,000 figure from conversations with Cambridge PD and policing experts. It does not include how much Harvard pays its own campus police for security:

“I don’t have any figures to give you, but I can guarantee you that the cost is going up for everybody,” Police Foundation president Jim Bueermann said. …

Steven J. Healy, the CEO of campus security consulting company Margolis Healy, agreed.

“The landscape is different than it was five years ago, ten years ago,” said Healy, who previously served as Director of Public Safety at Princeton. “There is a wider acknowledgement that… promoting free speech is not free—given the current climate, there tends to be a greater awakening of oppositional voices, so that brings protest and that costs money.”

With an endowment that dwarfs half of the world’s economies, Harvard is in a more privileged provision than other schools to shell out on event security.

Archon Fung, academic dean for the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, told the Crimson he has “no idea” how much it typically spends on event security:

 

Fung said that, in his nearly two decades at Harvard, he has never once heard Kennedy School administrators balk at possible event security costs.

“I’ve never been in a conversation where somebody said, ‘Oh, there’s a tradeoff here between the safety and security concerns and some amount of resources and so we can’t afford it,” Fung said.

Read the article.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” Previously he led media and public relations at Seattle’s Discovery Institute, a free-market think tank. Greg is developing a Web series about a college newspaper, COPY, whose pilot episode was a semifinalist in the TV category for the Scriptapalooza competition in 2012. He graduated in 2001 with a B.A. from Seattle Pacific University, where he co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon.

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