Conservative pundit Ben Shapiro is slated to speak at the University of Pittsburgh Wednesday night, but administrators have demanded that the host organization—the Young America's Foundation—pay a whopping $5,500 fee to provide security.
Pittsburgh levied the fee on Monday, giving YAF little time to contest it and possibly jeopardizing future events, the organization said in a statement.
"It allows the administrators to have unfettered discretion in determining what kind of security is needed for an event," said YAF spokesperson Spencer Brown, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "It opens the door … to charge conservatives for more security, whereas leftist speakers are not charged extra fees."
YAF has agreed to pay the fee, but is considering a lawsuit, according to The College Fix.
Speaker security fees are a tricky subject, from a free speech perspective. Both the group and the university are in a tough position: conservatives understandably feel discriminated against because of bad actors on the other side of aisle, and administrators understandably don't want to be on the hook for costs stemming from an event someone else organized.
Ultimate blame, of course, lies with those who threaten to shutdown controversial speakers. I have plenty of disagreements with Shapiro, but he is an eloquent and knowledgeable representative of Trump-critical conservatism, and his ideas are worthy of discussion on campus.