A conservative student group at Boise State University says students’ free speech rights were trampled when school administrators required the gratuitous and costly hiring of extra security personnel when a gun rights speaker visited the campus.
BSU’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) invited Dick Heller — the former Federal police officer whose 2008 Supreme Court victory cleared the way for handgun ownership in the District of Columbia — to speak on the school’s campus last month.
The YAL students say they were required to pay $465 in last-minute fees for additional security and police officers on campus after school administrators said that they feared members of the community would try to open carry at the event.
According to YAL leaders, claims that open carry organizers would show up were unfounded and certainly didn’t come from members of the conservative group.
“Boise State overstepped its bounds by charging extra security fees last minute for an event where the goal wasn’t to have an open-carry gun rally, but rather provide an educational forum for our students and community regarding a very important, historical Second Amendment Supreme Court ruling,” YAL leader Sherlyn Rose wrote in an email to the Idaho Reporter.
But the college, which says it has charged the additional security fee for other events (a U.S. Bank stockholders meeting, Federal Reserve regional meeting and a Sandra Day O’Connor address ), said that the additional fee was charged as the result of a “threat assessment” — and not because administrators harbor biases against conservative causes.
“We do charge campus groups for security when it is deemed a necessary component of an event, based on threat assessments,” BSU communications staffer Kathleen Tuck told the Reporter.
“In this case, there was concern that a community member had been encouraging folks to open carry,” she continued.
Earlier this month, BSU officials said that the university would need to spend an estimated $500,000 in order to ramp up campus security to comply with a law passed by the Idaho Legislature and signed by Governor Butch Otter that will allow concealed carry on campuses starting July 1.
The bill will allow retired police officers and people who earn an enhanced concealed-weapons permit, which require special training and background checks, to carry on campus.