University creates administrative nightmare with exorbitant security fees for Riley Gaines event, students claim

‘As soon as we overcome one hurdle, like finding a room and figuring out what the deal is with security and ticketing, they throw another one right in our face,’ Kenna Fleig, Turning Point USA's UNM Co-President, told Campus Reform.

'I feel like the respect and trust you'd think you'd have with a university would be greater and make you feel safe, not like you're getting cheated out of something,' the group's Co-President told Campus Reform.

Conservative college groups regularly jump through hurdles to host conservative speakers on campus. Now, the University of New Mexico chapter of Turning Point USA (TPUSA) is speaking out, alleging that the group was treated unfairly, slapped with exorbitant speaker fees, and put through an administrative ringer when it attempted to bring Riley Gaines to campus.

”As soon as we overcome one hurdle, like finding a room and figuring out what the deal is with security and ticketing, they throw another one right in our face,” Kenna Fleig, the group’s Co-President told Campus Reform. 

Documents and meeting recordings obtained by Campus Reform revealed that administrators charged the group thousands of dollars in security fees to host Gaines at the event that took place Wednesday– in addition to requiring at least an additional 50 state police officers, and issuing a last-minute mandate that the group use the university’s ticketing system, after tickets had already been on sale for weeks.

It is a sad day when speaking the truth, that men are men and women are women, even requires security. let alone 50 police officers and thousands in security costs,” Gaines told Campus ReformThe more we adhere to this nonsense and longer we stay silent, the more extreme and radical the precautions get for speaking objective truth”

One meeting recording features UNM Police Lieutenant Timothy Stump informing Fleig and her co-president Jonathan Gonzales that the Student Union Building, or “SUB Theater”, was the safest and most secure building to have the event. However, Fleig told Campus Reform she later discovered the SUB was booked on Oct. 4 to stream the Barbie movie.

[RELATED: Riley Gaines: Transgender issues are about the ‘sheer essence of humanity’]

The chapter leaders had conversations with Stump and SUB director Cheryl Wallace over three recorded meetings. In the first meeting, Wallace said that SUB was booked Oct. 4, but that she would hold the building for Oct. 3 and 5. Wallace did not reveal what the Oct. 4 event was, but Fleig told Campus Reform it was through the UNM reservation system that she discovered it was booked to screen Barbie.

In a second meeting, Fleig explained to Wallace and Stump that Gaines could not move the Oct. 4 date due to her busy schedule, according to audio obtained by Campus Reform. They discussed holding the event in the Kiva Building instead.

The UNM Police Department initially created a $10,202.50 quote Aug. 31 for the TPUSA event. The quote lists 33 police officers each working 5.5 hours and does not reference a building location. Stump explained to Fleig and Gonzales that UNM must provide police protection even though Gaines has her own security team. The Leadership Institute’s Riley Gaines Center has agreed to pay reasonable security costs.

Stump also said he would need to contact New Mexico State Police, which would provide “another 50 officers or more” in addition to the quoted 32 UNM officers. Gonzales asked how the UNM Police Department agreed upon the quoted number of officers. 

“We assess it on the research and the data that has come up … beginning with Tomi Lahren,” Stump said, according to the audio. “I was involved with that… my life was put at risk… we have to mitigate how to control and protect the assets.” Stump also said that location could be a factor in number of required officers.

“We are not going to be the story on the news later that the police did not assist, the police didn’t help,” Stump said, referencing Gaines’ appearance at SFSU.

In a third recorded meeting Sept. 18, Fleig told Stump that the event would only be two to three hours, and inquired why TPUSA was quoted 5.5 hours per officer. 

Stump then said that he could create a different quote to shorten the hours because police officers will not need to shut down the Kiva Building and can, therefore, arrive at 6 p.m.

Stump later sent a quote charging $7,420 for four hours instead of 5.5, according to documents shared with Campus Reform. He also agreed to adjust the cost if the event ended early or if officers called in sick. 

[RELATED: ‘I stand by Riley’: The attack on Riley Gaines has Congress’ attention]

In that third meeting, Ryan Lindquist, the director of the student activities center at UNM, told Fleig and Gonzales to use UNM ticketing to have the event, and that they would have to complete a ticket request form and set up yet another meeting. 

Gonzales explained that he and Fleig worked with the Leadership Institute on a free ticketing service that has a verification process, so that people do not buy tickets and then not attend, which is what happened when Charlie Kirk visited the campus in 2022. Gonzales also said that they already posted the link and people had already purchased tickets.

Regardless, Lindquist said that Gonzales and Fleig would have to use UNM’s system to ensure they did not oversell the event due to fire safety rules. Not taking the link down would violate school policy, Lindquist said. 

“We’ve been having people register with that QR code since August,” Fleig told Campus Reform. 

“I don’t feel like we are being granted the same respect as every other club would be if they were trying to bring a speaker to campus,” Fleig told Campus Reform.

”I feel like the respect and trust you’d think you’d have with a university would be greater and make you feel safe, not like you’re getting cheated out of something,” Gonzales told Campus Reform. ”This hasn’t been the case and it’s sad to see. Having our voices heard has been so hard, and every time we felt like maybe we could trust a platform, they would prove to us why we couldn’t depend on them. As students I guess all we can do moving forward is spread truth and work with likeminded individuals to help push for change.”

Campus Reform contacted Stump, Lindquist, and Wallace for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.