Before college campus speakers make it to campus or, potentially, the online outrage cycle, a lot of effort goes into the logistics of inviting these notables and preparing for their appearances: selecting speakers, negotiating speaking fees, securing accommodations for travel, housing, and meal costs. Security costs, in particular, can be extraordinarily high.
As reported by Jillian Berman on MarketWatch:
The University of California-Berkeley, spent roughly $4.8 million on security in 2017 surrounding appearances from controversial speakers, like Milo Yiannopoulos and Ben Shapiro, who were invited by student groups, according to the university. The University of Florida spent $500,000 to keep its campus safe when white nationalist Richard Spencer appeared there in 2017, a university spokesman said in an email.
MuckRock users like Matthew Guariglia have used FOIA to uncover information like this before. His successful FOIA request can be found here. In 2017, student journalists at the University of North Texas used FOIA to reveal that Donald Trump Jr. was to be paid $100,000 to speak at the university’s Kuehne Speaker Series, as reported by Sarah Sarder. You can also get information on other campus guests, including performers and classroom visitors.
As America gears up for a fresh election year, campus speakers continue to spark conversation around the cost, financial and otherwise, to universities of sponsoring particular individuals. This year, for example, the Boston University chapter of Young America’s Foundation, a conservative student organization, has asked Ben Shapiro, a popular right-wing media figure, to speak at BU, sparking an online petition in opposition to the invitation. The university has said that security costs would amount to almost $13,000, and that the event must be held in a venue that only seats 700. However, BU being a private institution, it isn’t obligated to release information on the event. That same restriction doesn’t apply to public universities, though.
MuckRock would like to help you learn more about speakers coming to your campus. Submit your school (must be a public school/university) and speaker below and we’ll send a version of our request.
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Image via Tinker Air Force Base