The University of Wisconsin decided Tuesday to cover nearly $1,300 in safety fees recently charged to a student group.
The College Republicans had been charged for extra services provided by the University of Wisconsin Police Department for an event featuring conservative speaker David Horowitz.
But College Republicans chair Sara Mikolajczak said Monday the group was unaware of the price when the event took place and would be unable to afford the bill.
Casey Nagy, executive assistant for the chancellor, met with Mikolajczak Tuesday and said UW will cover the security costs in full because College Republicans had other additional costs to hold the event, which were not originally included in the group's budget.
Mikolajczak said the group had to relocate from Grainger Hall, which is rented at no charge to student organizations, to the Union Theater, which cost nearly $1,000. Additionally, the group spent about $300 in publicity.
The number of students interested in attending Horowitz's lecture was much higher then expected, and College Republicans rented the Union Theater so they would not have to turn anyone away, she added.
According to Nagy, the bill was expensive because UW police had to call additional staff and pay several police officers overtime.
"I don't expect to be picking up the tab time after time," Nagy said. "But there's going to be times when that's just not fully predictable, and I think it's in the campus interest to make these events go forward."
Nagy said student organizations should seek assistance from UW when a situation like this happens.
"Part of the problem I see in this case is that it wasn't necessarily avoidable," Nagy said. "They had a level of interested people and they had to last-minute relocate, which resulted in added cost."
Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, publicly criticized UW last week, saying security fees are being used to silence conservative voices that come to UW, adding the university "has been unable to name any similar fees charged for left-of-center speakers."
"I don't necessarily think we were attacked because we're a conservative group," Mikolajczak said. "It could be, but I would like to think that this university wouldn't do that."
In a list of recent security fees obtained by The Badger Herald, several groups were charged for events in which extra security was necessary, including a previous event featuring Horowitz and a 2004 campaign event for Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean.
"I think Sen. Grothman was concerned this need to impose security costs might discourage some speakers to come to campus," Nagy said. "That's a legitimate concern, and I think we have addressed it."
Mikolajczak previously said a Union employee had informed her the security fees would "probably be no more than a couple hundred dollars."
Nagy said Union staff is not responsible for the fees, and there was a miscommunication about pricing between police and College Republicans. He added the current security fees policy does not require revision.
"I know it's university policy, but I think it's a bad policy," Mikolajczak said. "It's not really feasible for a student group. I would like to see it changed."