A victory for free speech was achieved this week when University of Southern Maine (USM) backed down from imposing mandatory security fees on the school’s Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter for simply planning an event with a local conservative speaker.
YAF chairman Benjamin Bussiere invited sitting Maine House of Representatives member Larry Lockman to give a speech entitled “Alien Invasion: Fixing the Immigration Crisis.” When University of Southern Maine discovered this, administrators contacted Bussiere demanding that YAF pay security fees due to the expected controversial nature of Lockman’s views.
Bussiere boldly let university administrators know that this was unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination. When USM administrators still refused to budge, Bussiere decided to pursue further action.
A letter was sent to university administrators on behalf of Bussiere and his YAF chapter by Alliance Defending Freedom. The letter explained why the University’s policies are unconstitutional, and requested the university to rescind security fees for the event planned for February 16th.
Due to Bussiere’s bold decision to stand up to university administrators, University of Southern Maine immediately backed down and rescinded security fees being charged to the YAF chapter regarding this event.
Bussiere’s activism on behalf of his YAF chapter demonstrates the importance of never backing down. His free speech victory can be shared amongst not only conservatives, but the entire student body.
Alliance Defending Freedom Attorney, Caleb Dalton, stated the following regarding the free speech victory:
“Speech isn’t free when students have to pay hundreds of dollars because others want to protest their viewpoints. The cornerstone of higher education is the ability to participate freely in the marketplace of ideas on campus, but when administrators have free rein to charge student groups for ‘crowd control’ because their speech is deemed too ‘controversial,’ speech moves from being free to, quite literally, expensive. Policies like this give protestors the ability to veto less popular viewpoints, turning the marketplace of ideas into the intellectual vacuum of intolerance. We commend the university for deciding to review their policies and rescind the assessment of fees in this case.”