The University of Wisconsin charged
College Republicans nearly $1,300 in security fees for an event held
earlier this semester. But chair Sara Mikolajczak said Monday the
group will not pay the debt.
College Republicans is being charged
for security services provided by UW police during an Oct. 22 event
featuring conservative speaker David Horowitz. The event turned out
to be peaceful and no major incidents were reported.
In a meeting previous to the Horowitz
visit, police told College Republicans there would be a charge for
security services provided, but Mikolajczak said a Union
representative present said the fee would "probably be no more than
a couple hundred dollars."
Mikolajczak said she has been contacted
by a representative from the chancellor's office to discuss the
matter, but has not been able to schedule a meeting.
"They haven't called me back yet,
but we think that $1,300 is absolutely ridiculous to expect a student
organization to pay for a service we didn't ask for," Mikolajczak
said. "We're just not going to do it. We can't afford to pay
State Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend,
criticized UW's security fees policy and asked the Board of Regents
to "take immediate action forbidding its campuses from charging
security fees for on-campus speakers."
Grothman said he intends to introduce
legislation preventing the university from charging these fees, if UW
does not act on the matter.
"It is clear the UW is using
'security fees' to try to silence any voices which may be out of
step with the hardcore left-wing orthodoxy found in so many liberal
arts classrooms," Grothman wrote in a statement. "The UW has been
unable to name any similar fees charged for left-of-center speakers."
The highest fees included $4,976.42 for
a Primate Research Center conference and $2,407.15 for guest speaker
Ward Connerly, a Republican political activist like Horowitz.
College Republicans had been previously
charged $891.68 for a 2002 Horowitz lecture.
Don Nelson, UW assistant director of
state relations, said it is not the university's interest to
"squelch up opportunities of free speech."
"We want to facilitate the exercise
of those events, and we want to meet with those groups to make sure
these groups have the ability to carry these events forward,"
Nelson said UWPD makes assessment of
the security need surrounding student-organized events, and follows
specific guidelines to determine if additional security is needed.
"Those guidelines do not include the
political nature of the event," he said. "[The issue] could be
location, time of day — could be anything. They do not take into
consideration 'this is a conservative event, they automatically
He said security surrounding the event
is what UW police are responsible for, adding, "security is not an
option on this campus."
Nelson said UW administrators are
willing to meet with College Republicans to discuss the matter, and
should schedule a meeting within the near future.