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College Republicans of the University of Washington v. Cauce

From February 2018 to June 2018
The University of Washington (Public college or university)
Seattle, Washington, United States

Identity of Speakers

  • Joey Gibson
    Faculty/Staff
    Invited for non-academic lecture

    Founder of Patirot Prayer, a controversial right-wing organization that often protests in liberal areas in order to provoke negative reactions from liberal organizations.

  • Chevy Swanson
    Student
    Other

    President of the College Republicans at the University of Washington

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
    Recognized student group event
  • Incident Responses:
    University administration not protective of speech
  • Incident Status:
    Settled
  • No protest Occured
  • Was Speech Code incident

Summary

The University of Washington maintains a “Safety and Security for Events” policy, which requires student organizations to reimburse the University for the cost of security for on-campus events. The policy was adopted in response to violent protests that erupted when the College Republicans brought Milo Yiannopolous, a prominent and provocative conservative speaker, on campus to speak in January 2017.

In October 2017, an individual associated with Patriot Prayer, a controversial right-wing organization, contacted the College Republicans. The individual offered to help organize an event where Patriot Prayer’s founder and leader, Joey Gibson, would come to campus to speak. Later that month, Chevy Swanson, the president of the College Republicans of the University of Washington, met with members of the administration to discuss planning the event. Administrators informed him that the cost of security would be extremely high because Patriot Prayer had attracted violent counter-protests in the past. Based on this, the College Republicans decided not to move forward with the event during the Fall Semester. However, in January 2018, the College Republicans decided to hold the Patriot Prayer event outdoors in order to waylay some of the costs associated with booking a room, equipment, and security. The group again met with school administrators to discuss the feasibility of the event. On February 1, 2018, Craig Wilson, the Patrol Commander of the University of Washington’s Police Department, informed Swanson that the expected cost of security would be $17,000 and that pursuant to the “Safety and Security for Events” policy, the College Republicans would be expected to reimburse the University for the cost.

On February 6, 2018, the College Republicans of Washington and Swanson filed § 1983 and § 1988 actions against various University of Washington administrators alleging the Security Fee Policy violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and that the fee charged was excessive and unreasonable. The Plaintiffs additionally filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to direct the University to reassess its security fee according to objective standards that did not include possible responses to protesters. On February 9, 2018, the District Court for the Western District of Washington, Seattle, granted the Plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order. On June 14, 2018, the University of Washington agreed to alter its “Safety and Security for Events” policy and pay $122,500 in legal fees to settle the action.