WILL Warns UW-Madison Over First Amendment Violation  

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) and Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) are demanding that the University of Wisconsin-Madison treat all student organizations fairly and not punish a conservative organization for its viewpoints.  

Young America’s Foundation (YAF) is hosting Daily Wire conservative commentator and author Mike Knowles on Wednesday, March 13th. The University is asking the organization to cover “security” costs –estimated at over $4,000 – despite never charging YAF or any other student organization (Left or Right leaning) for these costs before. 

The Quotes: Dan Lennington, WILL Deputy Counsel stated, “Freedom of speech is not negotiable. Charging a conservative group thousands of dollars for a so-called ‘controversial’ speaker is ridiculous, especially since UW-Madison routinely hosts—and even pays—controversial leftwing speakers. UW-Madison should be happy to support multiple viewpoints and a robust exchange of ideas.”  

Harrison Wells, chairman of Young Americans for Freedom at UW-Madison, stated, “Despite following policy and playing by the rules, our YAF chapter is treated unfairly by the University of Wisconsin and has faced intimidation, discrimination, and undue burdens that other clubs on campus do not face. We want to show students that there is more than the liberal bias they see on campus and UW has a responsibility to ensure our constitutional right to do so.”  

Additional Background: YAF will host Daily Wire commentator and author Michael Knowles on Wednesday, March 13. UW will charge YAF for stage setup and table skirting, which are ordinary costs. YAF has paid these in the past, and will of course pay for these reasonable costs. Unfortunately, UW is also attempting to add costs for “security.” These costs are both unusual and extraordinary. According to the confirmation memorandum, UW will charge YAF the amounts of $1,874.04 for six police officers, $442.84 for one police supervisor, $433.73 for “CSC Personnel,” $600 for a metal detector, $106 for security guard supervisor, $97.08 for four more security guards, and $101.20 for “miscellaneous personnel.”  

UW hosts multiple leftwing speakers—some of whom are very controversial—but there is no indication that UW has ever charged security fees for these events. The university should disclose if that remains to be the case.   


Dan Lennington

Dan Lennington

Deputy Counsel

Share This