New Mexico State University: Student Group Charged Unconstitutional Security Fee for Controversial Speaker


New Mexico State University

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

In May 2017, the New Mexico State University (NMSU) chapter of Students for Academic Freedom (SAF) hosted an event featuring a keynote address by David Horowitz. Less than a week before the event, NMSU informed SAF that it would be required to pay over $300 to cover the cost of security that the NMSU Police Department deemed necessary in part due to “planned counter-protests.” On July 26, 2017, FIRE wrote to NMSU explaining that security fees may not be imposed on student organizations on the basis of others’ disagreement with the organizations’ expression. FIRE further noted that NMSU’s security fee policy is unconstitutional because it grants administrators unchecked discretion to impose arbitrary security fees on controversial events. On August 3, NMSU Chancellor and President Garrey Carruthers responded to FIRE, stating that the university would pay for the security fee imposed on SAF, and that NMSU would conduct a review of the university’s policies to ensure that they comport with First Amendment standards.