Two days before it was scheduled to host a speaking event with former education professor and activist Bill Ayers, MSU student group Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was informed by MSU’s Center for Student Involvement that it would be charged extra security fees for an unspecified number of extra security officers to handle possible protesters against the event. FIRE wrote to MSU President Susan A. Cole before the event to remind MSU that it may not burden the group by affixing a price tag to such events on the basis of their expressive content. MSU did not directly respond to FIRE, but SDS confirmed that MSU did not charge it for the extra security officers present at the event.
April 22, 2011
This week, FIRE reported a free speech victory after Montclair State University backed down from charging an unconstitutional security fee for a speech sponsored by Students for a Democratic Society featuring education theorist and former Weatherman Bill Ayers. This is one more example where FIRE thwarted a “heckler’s veto.” Stanley Kurtz, writing for National Review Online’s The Corner, writes: It seems that Montclair State adopted a tactic sometimes deployed to keep controversial speakers off campus. They tried to assess the SDS a special fee to pay for security during Ayers’ speech. This tactic has been used to discourage conservative and libertarian speakers form […]» Read More
April 21, 2011
NEWARK, N.J., April 21, 2011—Montclair State University has averted a First Amendment crisis on campus by backing down from an unconstitutional plan to levy extra fees on a student group that had invited education theorist and former Weatherman Bill Ayers to lecture on campus. After the university told Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) that it would be responsible to pay for an unspecified number of extra security officers because of the possibility of hostile protesters, the students came to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. “Universities like Montclair State seem to think they’ve come up […]» Read More