Boise State rescinds security fee imposed on gun-rights speech

Boise State University charged Young Americans for Liberty $465 to hire additional security for a speech by Dick Heller.

BSU's attorney says a student posted on YAL's Facebook page about his plan to bring a weapon and encouraged others to join him.

YAL claims it discouraged open carry weapons.

Boise State University has agreed to rescind the additional security costs charged to students of a conservative group after they brought a gun-rights advocate to campus back in May.

The BSU chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) was charged $465 to cover the costs of hiring three extra guards and two city police officers to patrol the campus during Dick Heller’s speech. Heller gained recognition amongst conservative groups after he won a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court case, which allowed residents of the District of Columbia to buy and own handguns.

BSU officials told the group they were required to provide additional security on May 14. With the event approaching two days later, YAL members struggled to accommodate BSU's new requirement.

“We would like them [BSU] to have a mandatory notification period so we can properly prepare for the event. We would also like all clubs to fall under the same rules and regulations,” BSU’s YAL President Nick Ferronato told Campus Reform.

BSU has now announced that it will rescind the security fees for the event.

University officials would not comment to Campus Reform on whether or not imposing additional security fees was common practice.

BSU is refusing to change university policies regarding the event despite pressure from groups like the Idaho Freedom Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho. The ACLU and Freedom Foundation feel BSU’s event policies are unconstitutional and are threatening to sue the university if they are not amended.

Boise State attorney Kevin Satterlee claimed the university felt it was necessary to have additional security after a community member wrote on YAL’s Facebook page that he planned to bring a weapon to campus and encouraged others to join him.

“Campus security officials determined this person posed a security risk for the campus community—and not just the risk of one person openly carrying a firearm into the Student Union Building in violation of policy, but rather, many,” wrote Satterlee in a statement provided to Campus Reform. “This University values the open exchange of ideas and will not limit speech using security expenses as a method to chill or to depress speech or expression.”

YAL says they specifically warned against open carry weapons on campus during the event and feel the university is inherently biased on contentious topics, such as gun-rights.

“People on the other side of the topic don’t necessarily have these strict requirements,” says Ferronato. “It depends entirely on what side of the topic you are on and not necessary what the topic is about. That is how they base their rules and regulations on individual groups.”

A spokesperson from the university declined to comment to Campus Reform as the university hasn’t released a response. The spokesperson said they will “discuss our options” with the school and “issue a statement accordingly.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @mlitDC