The College Republicans at Southern Connecticut State University say they feel discriminated against after campus leaders hiked a room rental fee on them — from free to several thousand dollars — for one of their political events.
The GOP students had originally being granted permission to use a campus hall for free, but the school changed its mind and decided to charge the organization for it after another Southern student who is on the Democrat Party’s payroll complained.
The event, a three-day political, pro-Republican “Digital Summit,” connected the SCSU College Republicans and Connecticut Republican Party members for social media strategy sessions to help galvanize GOP voters. The event did charge an admission fee to get in.
Sarah O’Connor, president of SCSU College Republicans, provided The College Fix with paperwork showing campus rooms had indeed been set aside for her group. But as the event drew near, she said she was hit with an invoice for the rental.
“The school likes to say it was a miscommunication even though they knew exactly what the event was about,” O’Connor said in a statement to The College Fix. “They claim it’s a fundraiser, which is a complete lie.”
The digital summer did take place. With organizers citing “Democrat obstruction” as the reason for the relocation, the event, held Feb. 9 through Feb. 11, took place at a local community center instead of on campus.
— Sarah O’Connor (@SarahO31) February 1, 2018
O’Connor told New Haven news outlets she is frustrated.
“From my past experiences being a conservative on this campus, I 100 percent believe that I am being discriminated against because I’m a conservative,” O’Connor told WTNH Connecticut News.
She also told the Connecticut Post: “The bias is so real on this campus that it doesn’t shock me that it happened. I’m not going to sit back and let it happen any more.”
The news outlets reported that the charge for the rooms went from zero to $4,000-$5,000, and campus officials also requested proof of insurance.
Campus spokesman Patrick Dilger argues the school was compelled to levy the fee.
“The Digital Summit reservation request was originally made by a student group. But upon learning that the event was being organized by the State Republican Party, with admission prices of up to $150, it was subject to the same fees and insurance charged to all outside groups that rent university facilities, as per Board of Regents policy,” Dilger said in an emailed statement to The College Fix.
Dilger added that the public university offered to help the College Republicans find another space in the student center for their event, yet they received notice back that the group had decided to hold it in another location.
The State Democratic Party Chairman, Nick Balletto, acknowledged to WTNH Connecticut News that a paid Democrat Party staffer, another student at the school, did complain about the event. He defended that course of action.
“Raising money at a public or even a quasi-public institution for a party or an organization, they should have to pay for that facility,” Balletto said.
A state GOP leader countered that assertion.
“It’s unfortunate that the president of Southern Connecticut State University is so weak-kneed and afraid in allowing people how to learn how to better utilize social media and Twitter,” state GOP chairman J.R. Romano told the Connecticut Post.