When the University of Buffalo Students for Life hosted a debate about abortion, they thought they’d get coverage defending life. Instead they got national coverage for defending their liberty.
In April, when the student group asked the administration to host a debate on abortion, officials thought the event might stir a little controversy and asked the group to hire campus security for the event. They complied and, even though the event attracted no disturbances, the student group was landed with a $650 bill.
When “Alliance Defending Freedom” -- an Arizona based legal group defending religious freedom -- caught wind of this, they filed a federal lawsuit against the university. What is mostly at issue here is whether the officials were justified in asking the group to pay for campus security.
On the one hand, no other groups, even when hosting debates on hot button topics like religion, were asked to pay the steep security fee. The fee, additionally, is $150 more than the Student Association distributes to their group every year. Finally, as Alliance Defending Freedom argues, the university officials deemed the event potentially controversial without any formal evaluation. This leaves a great deal of suspicion that the officials could editorialize student expression by imposing onerous fees on certain groups.
Then again, it was only a request. A request, moreover, the group willingly complied with. The university, as a private institution, has an obligation to keep the campus safe and may even have been acting in the student group’s best interests. The officials could not have known ahead of time whether the event would be dangerous.
Sources: University Herald