Stanford Covers Security Fee, But Viewpoint Discrimination Remains

March 21, 2014

Yesterday, FIRE updated supporters with our letter to Stanford University and accompanying press release. We called on Stanford to eliminate the more than $5,600 in unjust security fees it had levied on the Stanford Anscombe Society (SAS) for an upcoming conference on marriage and family issues. We also called on Stanford’s student government to reject and reverse its clear viewpoint discrimination against the student group in refusing its funding requests. Stanford’s Graduate Student Council (GSC) initially approved SAS’s request for $600 in funding to aid its conference, but protests from students over its content and allegations that the conference wouldn’t make for a “safe space” prompted the GSC to retract the funding. (The minutes of the GSC’s March 5 meeting document the whole sorry spectacle.)

Fortunately, FIRE received word yesterday evening that Stanford would cover the costs of security after all. As SAS announced, it was informed via email that the university had “[f]ound more funds to subsidize the full cost of the security”—a lucky break, given that Stanford is only a “$4.8 billion enterprise.” But no matter. We commend Stanford for doing the right thing here and not crippling SAS’s event by unjustly forcing it to pay the exorbitant costs of defending its right to free expression from those who would deny that right to them.

This leaves the matter of the student government’s well-documented and deplorable viewpoint discrimination against SAS, which must be immediately addressed and rectified if Stanford students are to have any faith in their student government’s (and by extension their university’s) interest in protecting their free speech rights equally. The ball is in the student government’s court, and FIRE and others are watching closely.

Schools:  Stanford University

Cases:  Stanford University: Viewpoint-Discriminatory Funding Retraction, Massive Security Fees for Student Group’s Conference