Cal Poly College Republicans are decrying a recent resolution presented by university faculty members to the Academic Senate that would limit security spending by the school for speakers invited by clubs as an infringement on free speech.
The proposed resolution comes after Cal Poly and the California State University system spent more than $140,000 on security for two visits from right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.
The resolution — presented by Margaret Bodemer and Carrie Langner — argued that a new university policy be enacted to "set a reasonable and equitable cap on expenses involved in security for speaker events."
Should those fees exceed $5,000, the resolution says, the campus club(s) would be required to raise their own funding to cover the additional costs.
The Cal Poly College Republicans, a group that helped bring Yiannopoulos and other conservative speakers to campus, said the proposed resolution is "a direct attempt to stifle free speech and will result in a less safe environment for all those who wish to participate in future Cal Poly affiliated club events."
Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier said any senate resolution that does not directly involve curriculum is "advisory only and is non-binding in nature."
If the resolution were to pass next fall, it would then go to President Jeffrey Armstrong, who would ultimately decide whether to accept it.
When Yiannopoulos visited campus for a "fake news" panel in April, Cal Poly reportedly paid $46,600 for security, with an additional $39,600 coming from the CSU.
Lazier said those costs included wages and overtime for staff, including 17 university police officers, 54 officers from other CSU campuses and 58 officers "from various other law enforcement agencies around the county."
That money also covered temporary fencing around Mott Athletic Center, emergency response unit standby and equipment.
When Yiannopoulos spoke at Cal Poly in 2017, during the height of his notoriety, Cal Poly and the CSU paid a combined $55,400 in security fees. The university staffed that event with 109 police officers from seven agencies.
Senate chair Dustin Stegner said the resolution emerged out of concern from faculty that, in recent years, there "has been a change in the way security costs for speakers (are) being calculated."
"We have a finite number of resources," Stegner said. "To essentially offer the possibility of a blank check on any expenditure might not be the best way to talk about how we're going to spend money at Cal Poly."
The Cal Poly College Republicans called the resolution unconstitutional on the basis of its "chilling effect" on free speech. In a prepared statement on the resolution, the club said their events used to require minimal security and attracted little attention on campus.
"Today, our events have become targets of violent threats and protest, mimicking the much larger culture of Leftist intolerance," the statement said, adding that any voice right-of-center brought onto Cal Poly's campus would necessitate security fees in excess of $5,000.
Stegner said faculty decided on the $5,000 limit because that is roughly the dollar amount the university required the Cal Poly Muslim Student Association to pay for security during a three-day conference in January 2016. The Cal Poly College Republicans were not charged for bringing the controversial Yiannopoulos to campus.
At the time, Cal Poly officials said the two events were not alike, deeming the Yiannopoulos event a free-speech activity with First Amendment protections. Stephen Lloyd-Moffett, who served as the Muslim Student Association's adviser, said it was "a blatant double standard" by the university.
Lazier said Cal Poly's current practice is to not charge recognized student clubs for security related to protests or disruptive behavior.
Moving forward, Stegner said the resolution will likely be presented again at the next senate meeting in September.
"My sense is the faculty will make a statement by voting in the fall," Stegner said, "and the details will be worked out, I imagine, by the administration, if they decide to endorse the resolution."