By Naomi Grant and Taylor Swaak
Breitbart editor and conservative journalist Milo Yiannopoulos said Monday the wishes and “rights of students have been violated” after Terps for Trump had to cancel his Wednesday talk at Ritchie Coliseum because of cost constraints.
An invoice from Oct. 10 put the cost of security for the event — a stop on Yiannopoulos’ controversial “Dangerous Faggot Tour” — at $2,574, and the total cost of the event at $9,428. Following multiple quotes and negotiations, the cost of security came to $2,211, and the entire event, which included ticketing and administration, lighting, stage setup, A/V and security, came to $5,048, University of Maryland spokeswoman Crystal Brown said.
An Oct. 20 email from Matt Clair, coordinator for Facility Scheduling, to Terps For Trump President Matt Morris indicated that the two parties had met on Oct. 17 and agreed the student group would pay a deposit of $2,000 and submit a signed agreement by Oct. 19 to host a talk by Yiannopoulos at Ritchie. But in addition to the student group’s GoFundMe campaign falling short of the $2,000, Terps for Trump had not turned in the required paperwork by the time Clair sent the email the next day — so the event was canceled.
“As an organization, we feel that our attempt to bring Milo to the University of Maryland was only inhibited by the intolerant and often hostile reaction to opposing viewpoints that has grown increasingly common today,” said Morris, a junior mechanical engineering major, though he indicated he didn’t “think the university necessarily did anything malicious.”
The high security costs were in response to incidents such as bomb threats made at schools where Yiannopoulos has been scheduled to speak, according to an Eventbrite email sent to ticketholders Saturday night.
“This is the oldest trick in the book,” said Yiannopoulos, noting he doesn’t charge a speaking fee at any university. “Security concerns is a way of universities to un-invite speakers without outright banning them.”
Heightened security for a more well-known figure, especially one who is more controversial, is not uncommon and often necessary, University of Maryland Police Special Events/Special Operations Commander Captain Laura Dyer said on Tuesday.
“We have a commitment to safe and successful events,” Dyer said. ”We want the event to continue as planned. And that requires a staffing to ensure the events continue as planned.”
Michael Spivey, a public law professor at this university, wrote in an email Tuesday that whether or not the decision was unconstitutional depends on what factors were taken into consideration when setting up the fee.
“If the fee is determined based upon the expected size of the group without consideration of the content of the speech, it might be OK,” he wrote. “It depends upon the specifics of UMd’s policy and what UMd has done in the past in assessing fees.”
On the other hand, he noted that a heightened cost based on the visitor and topic matter would be “content-based regulation and subject to strict scrutiny.”
This university is not the only one that has canceled its Yiannopoulos talk. The University of Miami College Republicans canceled its October event after meeting with university staff, and New York University canceled its scheduled November talk this past week amid concerns about “the safety and well-being of our community,” according to an Inside Higher Ed article.
While Yiannopoulos said he would have preferred the event to continue on Wednesday, he is determined to reschedule his talk at this university as soon as possible.
“We will reschedule, the event will continue and when the event does continue I will be speaking for an hour and a half about … free speech at the University of Maryland,” Yiannopoulos said. “It would have been a lot easier for them if they’d just let this talk happen.”
He added he also intends to contact this university’s Alumni Network to make alumni aware of the matter and gauge their reactions to the decision.
“We’ll let the Republicans know what’s happening here, and we’ll see if UMD’s own alumni agree with the university’s decisions here,” Yiannopoulos said. “There’s really no good outcome for UMD from all of this. It’s a very, very dumb thing for them to try to do, and they’re going to suffer for it.”
Security hadn’t been confirmed at the time of the event because the event itself hadn’t been officially confirmed, according to an Oct. 22 Diamondback article. The Diamondback is looking into this university’s policy for speaker fees, and this article will be updated.