On April 18, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) and the university's College Republicans chapter hosted an event titled "Should Transgenderism Be Regulated by Law?"
College Republicans planned the event months in advance and followed all university policies and procedures for scheduling it. Though the university first advised ISI that it would be responsible for only around $2,000 in security costs, it insisted just six days before the event that ISI pay an estimated $16,925 in security fees. Then, on May 19, the university assessed ISI a total of $18,734 for event security and, on June 1, demanded ISI "process this transfer very soon."
The fee was reportedly imposed after Pitt officials incited hundreds of protestors to disrupt the event. So this week, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sent a letter informing the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) that the fees violate the student groups' First Amendment rights.
"Speech should be free, and it should especially be free on college campuses," says ADF attorney Phil Sechler. "Schools shouldn't cancel speeches and events because they don't like the viewpoint, and they shouldn't burden events and speeches because they don't like the viewpoint. That's essentially what the University of Pittsburgh has done here."
"We see that all across the country," he adds.
If the university does not respond to ADF's letter by June 12, then Sechler says "other remedies" will be considered.
"It's time really for universities to protect free speech and to allow students to talk about issues big and small on campus," he contends.
AFN is seeking comment from University of Pittsburgh.