Breaking Campus News. Launching Media Careers.
Pitt must drop ‘security’ fee demand for Michael Knowles event: attorneys

‘The university’s attempt to charge College Republicans and Intercollegiate Studies Institute over $18,000 for security that they are obligated to provide is entirely unconstitutional,’ attorney says

The University of Pittsburgh should rescind its demand for $18,000 in security fees for an event between conservative Michael Knowles and libertarian Brad Polumbo about transgenderism, according to a letter from the Alliance Defending Freedom.

The letter from the Christian legal nonprofit demands that Pitt drop its request that the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and the campus College Republicans cough up $18,734 for security fees.

Furthermore, the letter accused Pitt officials of being partially responsible for the disruptions at the event. “On March 16, Provost Ann Cudd referred to a recent speech by Knowles as ‘repugnant’ and ‘hate-filled rhetoric’ in a message she sent the Pitt Community,” ADF wrote in its accompanying news release.

ADF wrote in the letter:

Here, the University has violated the First Amendment rights of ISI and College Republicans in three distinct ways: by imposing an unconstitutional security fee; by inciting students to disrupt the April 18 Event; and by failing to provide adequate security for the Event and instead deciding to shut it down before it even concluded.

“The university’s attempt to charge College Republicans and Intercollegiate Studies Institute over $18,000 for security that they are obligated to provide is entirely unconstitutional,” Phil Sechler, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, told The Fix via a statement. “That’s not free speech – that’s incredibly expensive speech, and we hope the university recognizes that.”

“We also want the University to reimburse the students for the other costs of the event, including the speaker fees, since the University’s own incitement of violence and failure to control the crowd caused it to be shut down before it finished,” Sechler told The Fix.

ADF told The Fix in a separate statement on June 14 the school asked for two more weeks to respond. The original deadline was June 12.

Pitt did not respond to a Fix inquiry sent in the past two weeks about the letter.

The protest outside of the event turned chaotic. At one point an “incendiary device” was thrown toward officers and detonated outside the venue during the debate, prompting campus police to send out an emergency notification alert, as previously reported by The Fix.

The event faced other hurdles when a professor slated to debate Knowles dropped out, even after boasting that he did not have to prepare, as The Fix previously reported.

Donald McCloskey, who now goes by “Deirdre,” previously taught economics at several universities.

“I don’t have to prepare for this debate,” McCloskey told the University of Pittsburgh’s student newspaper in March. “I think it’s going to be a silly debate,” McCloskey, who now calls himself a woman, told The Pitt News. “It’s not going to be a debate at all.”

Prior to the debate, McCloskey had also accused Knowles of being a “fascist” and an “anti-Jesus Catholic.”

“I’m happy to take a victory by default,” he said. “But it’s telling that even a distinguished scholar with three Harvard degrees and half a dozen honorary doctorates cannot defend transgenderism. Of course: the ideology is indefensible.”

MORE: American flag causes ‘anxiety’ for Marquette professor

IMAGE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute/YouTube

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

Please join the conversation about our stories on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, MeWe, Rumble, Gab, Minds and Gettr.

About the Author
College Fix contributor Elaine Gunthorpe is a student at Christendom College where she is studying political science and economics. Elaine is involved with the Christendom College Republicans, Network of Enlightened Women, and Shield of Roses. She also writes as a Campus Correspondent with Campus Reform.