U.S. colleges spend millions on security to host controversial speakers - 2019-03-05
As the political climate in America has become more heated in recent years, so has the debate over what constitutes free speech. Look no further for evidence of this controversy than President Donald Trump's recent vow to issue an executive order that would require colleges to "support free speech" if they want access to federal research funding.
The debate has already proved costly for colleges. Speaking engagements with high-profile figures who make headlines from inflammatory comments — and the violent protests that can sometimes come with them — have been expensive, as campuses shell out to create a safe environment for free speech. "There is a cost, it's unavoidable," said Jeff Allison, the director of government and external relations at the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.
The University of California-Berkeley, spent roughly $4.8 million on security in 2017 surrounding appearances from controversial speakers, like Milo Yiannopoulos and Ben Shapiro, who were invited by student groups, according to the university. The University of Florida spent $500,000 to keep its campus safe when white nationalist Richard Spencer appeared there in 2017, a university spokesman said in an email.