University Sued For Charging Conservative Group ‘Hefty Fee’

( – A university that allowed Riley Gaines, a former D1 college swimmer and advocate for women’s sports, to come speak on campus is now being sued for charging the conservative student group that brought her a “hefty” security fee.

Gaines, who rose to fame after speaking out against allowing biological males into women’s sports and who now runs the Riley Gaines Center at the Leadership Institute, spoke at the University of New Mexico in October 2023. She spoke about her experiences “competing against a transgender athlete” as well as her work advocating for “women’s opportunities in sports.” She was invited to campus by Turning Point USA at UNM, the sole conservative group remaining on UNM’s campus.

UNM initially told their TPUSA chapter that the estimate for security fees for Gaines’s appearance would be $10,000 due to the controversial nature of her appearance. The Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) sent a letter to the university on behalf of the TPUSA chapter, alleging that imposing large security fees due to their assumptions of how people would react to Gaines’s speech is a violation of the students’ First Amendment rights. They also said that it is unconstitutional for the university to make judgements based on the viewpoints of a speaker, and doing so is “viewpoint and content discrimination.” Despite this warning, UNM sent a bill for $5,384 to the UNM chapter of TPUSA and the Leadership Institute for Gaines’s appearance.

Due to this large fee, SLF decided to move forward with a lawsuit against UNM on TPUSA at UNM’s behalf. The lawsuit alleges that the university has discriminated against conservative groups by requiring them to pay exorbitant security fees, including an $8,140 fee after the university’s Students for Life America chapter wanted to bring a pro-life speaker to campus. Cece O’Leary, who works at SLF as their Director of Legal Initiatives, said the hefty fees given to conservative students who want to bring speakers to campus is just a way of discouraging free speech from conservative students.

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