By: Matthew Mastroberti
For years, The George Washington University has targeted conservative students with thousands of dollars in hefty security fees to host conservative speakers. We are calling on the university to end this discriminatory, secretive practice and to stop punishing conservatives because of the intolerance of our leftist peers.
With the conclusion of our spring 2019 semester, The George Washington University’s YAF chapter entered the summer proud of the successful semester we had. With our most active school year yet, we were riding high on the standing-room-only lecture from Ben Shapiro in one of the largest auditoriums on campus. This was the kind of event that young conservatives dream of – massive turnout with hundreds of thousands more online, a knowledgeable speaker, and a constructive Q&A.
As the newly minted President of GW YAF, I’m spending the summer wrapping my head around the $2,600 security fee that carried over from our Shapiro lecture. When hosting speakers, the university has the power to bless whomever they choose with a mandatory security fee of any amount. From hundreds to even thousands of dollars, GW YAF has felt the heat of security fees before, more than any other student organization on campus. The administration punishes us in fear that other students may protest the event – a subtle way to support the heckler’s veto and stifle diverse ideas. In addition to the extreme security fees for Shapiro, we were charged hundreds of extra dollars last minute for a lecture by Former Senator Rick Santorum in 2017.
A perfect example of the discriminatory practice that security fees have morphed into is the comparison between our event with Former Senator Rick Santorum in a roughly 100-person room, which occurred a week and a half after the GW College Democrats brought Senator Chris Coons to a 250-person venue. Two Senators, but one key difference–our security fee was nearly $1,000 while the College Democrats? $0.00, even with the larger venue.
Yes, the process is unfair, the fees suffocating, and unnecessary stress is generally obnoxious, but YAF members across the country will continue to proudly bring conservatives to campus. While bias is occasionally overt, the subtle jabs at free expression have become much more popular for universities to dampen conservative expression. University administrators can throw fees, bureaucratic red tape, and the kitchen sink at us – our passion for limited government, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional American values will never falter. We will continue to exist on campus as the ever-famous “happy warriors,” smiling, laughing, and enjoying every second of our college experience as conservatives.
Matthew Mastroberti is the President of GW Young America’s Foundation for the 2019-2020 school year.