Emails obtained exclusively by Young America’s Foundation through a public records request made as part of YAF’s Censorship Exposed project uncover a pattern of discrimination and viewpoint motivated censorship. Administrators at the University of Wisconsin violated the students’ First Amendment rights when they targeted conservative speakers as “controversial” and selectively burdened the Young Americans for Freedom chapter with a “security fee.”
Records show the university’s “Special Events OT Billing” spreadsheet labeled YAF’s October 2018 Katie Pavlich event as “Controversial Speaker/Possible Protest.” The note section questions whether YAF should be billed for the security presence, asking “Bill YAF? Even though they won’t pay and it was more officers?” However, other events, such as Halloween Weekend, were determined as not to bill anyone. “No one gets billed for this. Our obligation to protect campus,” the document states.
“The university’s treatment of Katie Pavlich was appalling,” said YAF Spokesman Spencer Brown. “When the university labeled Ms. Pavlich as being ‘controversial,’ and then charged students for security, they violated the Constitution by employing a form of content-based discrimination. Furthermore, their willingness to ignore protestors sexually harassing a conservative woman is inexcusable.”
Despite the protests Katie Pavlich faced on the day of her lecture — including students waving sexual objects and shouting “Cocks not Glocks” — David LaWall, the Emergency Management Services Coordinator at UW-Madison, debriefed a member of the UPD team following the event detailing the protests against Pavlich as a “non-protest.” He also incorrectly noted that “there was not a lot of activity.”
On a separate occasion, Cherise Caradine, the Special Events Lieutenant at UW, emailed two detectives in November after getting notice of conservative speakers coming to campus. “There are some possibly controversial speakers coming to campus. Could you use your best detectiving [sic] skills and see if there is anything I should be aware of?” she wrote. The email goes on to list two conservative speakers, Bay Buchanan, and Jordan Peterson, as well as Symone Sanders.
UW-Madison targeted the Clare Boothe Luce Center for Conservative Women too.
An Assistant Dean at UW, Joanna Gurtselle, also flagged a CLBPI event with Antonia Okafor which she noticed on the Grant Allocation Committee agenda in an email to Dean Cox, stating “I don’t know if it will be funded or not, or if it would become something controversial.”
A conservative student skeptical of the university’s treatment towards their YAF chapter emailed the Assistant Dean of Students, Kipp Cox, following several email requests for event specifics and knowledge of which department was cosponsoring the event. The student asked, “Out of curiosity, is your reaching out to YAF and Luce Society typical protocol for potentially controversial events?” Cox responded, “As a matter of protocol, we reach out to any student group that has an event we think may need pre-planning, staff to attend, or may cause a protest due to possible controversial nature.”
Abigail Streu, chairman of the UW-Madison Young Americans for Freedom chapter at the time of these events, voiced her disappointment with the University. “It is incredibly frustrating to be a campus conservative activist when your organization has to jump through administrative hoops to simply bring a speaker to campus,” Streu said. She added that she was surprised the university went through campus events to list events as being controversial or not. “Plenty of student organizations on campus host events on campus that are technically polarizing, but it’s not always the case that the administration flags them and then leers over the students’ shoulders as they did with Wisconsin YAF events.”
Young America’s Foundation spokesman Spencer Brown noted that “UW-Madison isn’t ‘reaching out’ to conservative students hosting conservative speakers, they’re badgering conservative students for expressing conservative values on campus. Administrators make it more difficult for conservative students involved in YAF and CBLPI to host events on campus by selectively applying policies and making them jump through endless administrative hoops.”