Student organization charged nearly $8K in security fees to host pro-life speaker
The Students For Life of America chapter at the University of New Mexico received a fee of $8,140 in what SFLA staff call an 'obstacle' to hosting their president, Kristan Hawkins.
An SFLA staff member told Campus Reform that '[r]idiculously high security fees for pro-life events have become a trend ... on college campuses across the country.'
The Students For Life of America (SFLA) chapter at the University of New Mexico (UNM) received a fee of $8,140 in what staff call an “obstacle” to hosting a pro-life speaker.
The blog post shows a quote from the UNM Police Department of $8,140 to cover security fees for the event.
Hawkins, after receiving the quote on Mar. 9, informed the university that she has a security team working the event. But the Department has not lifted the fees, according to Caroline Wharton, a press strategist and staff writer for SFLA.
Wharton told Campus Reform that “[r]idiculously high security fees for pro-life events have become a trend ... on college campuses across the country.”
“It’s a violation of First Amendment rights to force such fines in order to conduct free speech,” she adds. SFLA’s “legal counsel is assisting the University of New Mexico SFLA group, among others, with this issue.”
The legal counsel sent UNM a demand letter claiming that “[Students for Life at UNM] observed harassment and discrimination levied on other ideologically similar groups throughout the 2022-2023 school year.”
“[C]oupled with the administration’s failure to take action against those perpetrators, the University quoted a security fee of $8,140 on SFL UNM for its upcoming event due to the threat that opposition may pose to the speakers.”
In a similar incident during the fall 2022 semester, UNM’s administration attempted to charge the SFLA chapter increased fees for an event despite its chartered status. SFLA took its event featuring pro-life speaker Joel Fevig off campus just days before it was scheduled after administrators raised concerns about interfering with Election Day.
Wharton told Campus Reform that “[p]ro-life speech is free speech,” so “students shouldn’t be punished because their pro-abortion peers may act out.”
“It’s the school’s responsibility to ensure peace and order,” she continues.
Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly.