One of the bastions of the Ivy League is trying to force a local group of Republicans to pay thousands of dollars for something that didn’t happen.
Conservative journalist Andy Ngo, best known for his work in covering and uncovering the thuggery committed by Antifa in places like Seattle and Portland, was scheduled to speak at Dartmouth College at a Jan. 20 event hosted by the College Republicans, Turning Point USA, and Network of Enlightened Women.
But according to the free speech group Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, which posted about the incident on its blog last week, Dartmouth unilaterally canceled Ngo’s appearance. He appeared virtually instead.
The college action was based on “concerning information” it claimed to have received from the local police. When FIRE asked Dartmouth to explain what that info was, the college sidestepped the question.
FIRE also asked the Hanover, New Hampshire, police department what the info was. In response, the cops provided public records and a letter from the police chief that said the department “did not make a recommendation to Dartmouth College regarding the January 20th event.”
FIRE, in turn, went back to Dartmouth and asserted it could not use “bogus safety concerns” to cancel student events.
Despite the input of the cops, Dartmouth stood by its story.
“We tend to believe the actual records from the police — which show no recommendation for Dartmouth to cancel events — over Dartmouth’s vague statements of ‘concerning information,’” FIRE noted.
Yet, the story gets worse.
“Now, Dartmouth has tripled-down, informing the College Republicans that they must pay $3,600 in security-related charges for the Andy Ngo event, which — at Dartmouth’s behest — never occurred in person, and took place only online,” FIRE reported.
Moreover, if the College Republicans don’t pay, the group cannot request any further funding from the college.
FIRE answered that with yet another letter that noted the group was “stunned by its decision to further curtail students’ expressive rights by imposing thousands of dollars in security fees for an event that never happened in person, and refusing to fund future College Republicans events until these exorbitant fees are paid — effectively placing a tax on controversial expression and, once again, acquiescing to a heckler’s veto.”
“Indeed, given Dartmouth’s actions, students face a difficult choice when choosing campus speakers: incur excessive security fees, self-censor expression that may anger others, or speak while threatened with deplatforming or censorship. This dilemma is impermissible at colleges — like Dartmouth — that promise students robust expressive rights,” FIRE continued.
“FIRE understands the Hanover police’s involvement in the Ngo event incurred substantial fees for the college. However, Dartmouth, in promising to create a campus where free speech is protected, may not pass its burden onto student groups.”
It called on Dartmouth to rescind the bill.
Dartmouth apparently won’t, however.
A college spokesperson last week told Inside Higher Education “leaders of the college Republican club were aware of their responsibility for security fees for the event and received an estimate in advance, with enough time to submit a funding request for these costs. They did not request this funding.”
“The club was also aware of the possibility that the event might need to be adjusted to address safety concerns expressed by the organizers themselves,” the spokesperson said.