Dartmouth College has demanded the school’s chapter of College Republicans pay a $3,600 “security fee” for an online event featuring a guest speaker.
According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Dartmouth canceled an in-person event featuring journalist (and former College Fix reporter) Andy Ngo, citing “concerning information” from the Hanover Police.
The school urged the College Republicans to hold the event online.
Later, the Hanover Police Department told FIRE it “did not make a recommendation to Dartmouth College regarding the January 20th event,” suggesting Dartmouth’s excuse for canceling the event was bogus.
“Unfortunately, we were not surprised when Dartmouth doubled down, stating that the Hanover police relayed to the college that ‘the information they received . . . was credible and caused them concern for the safety of those on campus,'” wrote FIRE’s Sabrina Conza.
“We tend to believe the actual records from the police — which show no recommendation for Dartmouth to cancel events — over Dartmouth’s vague statements of ‘concerning information.'”
“Administrators have argued they didn’t cancel the event — it was held on Zoom,” wrote College Republicans Vice President Chloe Ezzo in an opinion piece for The College Fix in January. “But what they fail to mention is that all of this was done on such short notice; we only had two laptops on hand, and no way to get the livestream link right away to those who were already driving home.”
“It’s also terribly ironic that an event focused on violent protests was canceled over the threat of violent protests,” wrote Ezzo, adding, “At this point I do not trust the administration to not cancel any of our future events.”
Later, Dartmouth sent the College Republicans a $3,600 bill for the event, citing security costs. The College Republicans will not be eligible for any financial assistance until the bill is paid.
FIRE followed up with a letter to Dartmouth, explaining that a $3,600 “security fee” for an event that took place online is tantamount to censorship:
Requiring the College Republicans to pay for the costs of security for its event imposes a financial burden on a student group based on the controversial nature of a group or event’s expression. In doing so, Dartmouth allows for, and indeed incentivizes, the exercise of a “heckler’s veto” by anyone wishing to silence that student group’s controversial or unpopular expression—this, on top of Dartmouth’s original capitulation to the heckler’s veto when it canceled the in-person Ngo event. Dartmouth’s actions here impermissibly align the college with those who would threaten unlawful conduct over the clear expressive rights of its own students.
“To say that Dartmouth supports free speech on campus is simply not true,” said Ezzo in an email to FIRE. “At a college with an $8.5 billion endowment, the fact that the Dartmouth administration is trying to burden us with these security fees says everything you need to know about how much they prize the expressive rights of their students.”
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