MERCED, Calif. - A group of UC Merced Republicans were taken by surprise after they claim university employees told them they'd be charged up to $17,000 to bring conservative speaker, Ben Shapiro, to campus.
Harrison Duran says he reached out to Freedom X, a law firm representing conservatives who are discriminated against. William Becker sent a letter to the chancellor last week, claiming the group's free speech was being attacked.
"A public entity, like a university, can't tax the public simply because they anticipate there might be a violent response to someone's first amendment expression. That' called a heckler's veto and is unconstitutional," Becker said.
Since the letter, the group was told that they'd have to pay a little more than $1,800 for security.
UC Merced officials sent us a statement, saying "all registered clubs are subject to the same fee rates," and that "the event being planned by the college republicans would require an estimated security fee of about $1,800, according to established rates maintained by the UC Merced Police Department"
Other students agree the group should be responsible.
"The school's allowing them to have that security... they're letting them know it's going to have to come out of your pocket just like other orgs have to get money out of their pocket," Student Alondra Morales Aguilar said.
A policy found online states groups are required to pay for fees associated with the use of university facilities for non-university speakers but there is not anything that gives groups a clear cost for an event.
The group will have to raise the money. They are hoping to have Shapiro speak on campus in April.