The Stanford College Republicans requested $6,000 for a February event featuring former Vice President Mike Pence. On a 7-6 vote, the student Senate turned them down. Adam Steinbaugh of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education's (FIRE) Individual Rights Program says the reasons for the denial are weak.
"'We're in the middle of a pandemic, so we don't want to have a large crowd attending the event,'" Steinbaugh relays. "And, 'We don't want protesters outside because they might be exposed to COVID,' and, 'Mike Pence is obviously a former vice president; that kind of presents security issues.'"
The FIRE spokesman says the denial of funds is clearly based on viewpoint discrimination.
"They are opposed to the viewpoints or the experience or the political actions of that person," he submits.
The conservative group says the attempts to stop their event are "completely futile." The club plans to pursue an appeal to the Constitutional Council, claiming the funding rejection violates the Undergraduate Senate’s own rules. Furthermore, university rules require that events needing security must secure over 50% of funding from on-campus sources.
The Washington Examiner points out that the Undergraduate Senate and the Stanford College Republicans have previously feuded over funding for conservative speakers. In 2019, the Undergraduate Senate initially blocked funding for an event with filmmaker and conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza before eventually acquiescing.