Follow the Money: How Radical Speakers Get Rich on Campus Lecture Tours

Jonathan Bean

Jay Schalin has an excellent piece examining one of the dirty secrets of higher education: the generous funding of left-wing speakers and the exclusion of other viewpoints. See his essay "Radical Rhetoric on Somebody Else's Dime."

As a faculty adviser to College Republicans, we have asked--and been denied--student-fee funding repeatedly. One year, we raised $7,000 in private funds to bring Ward Connerly to our law school. We needed another $1,500. Guidelines encourage students to raise some money on their own rather than simply milking the cash cow of student fees. Surely, $7,000 more than matches $1,500?

Answer from student government: a) we don't think graduate or professional students would be interested in your speaker; b) yes, you raised private funds (through donations) but normally we prefer bake-sale type events (although I am sure they did not have "affirmative action bake sale" events in mind!). After much buttonholing on my part, we got our $1,500, Connerly arrived to a packed house and it was one of the best events in many years.

Meanwhile, the College Democrats went to student government and asked for $22,000 to bring James Carville to campus. Answer: "No problem, here you go!" THEY promised to raise another $1,500 by charging nonstudents a $3 admission fee. No doubt the group made money on the event.

Again and again, speakers far to the Left come to campus; student fees give them $10,000 to $100,000. Look up speaker bureaus online and you will see that the more militant the speaker, the more money they make. At his peak, Ward Churchill raked in $20K per rant.

Why is this important? Because it is illegal under the Southworth decision of 2000. The Supreme Court ruled:

"When a university requires its students to pay fees to support the extracurricular speech of other students, all in the interest of open discussion, it may not prefer some viewpoints to others."

Follow the money, document the money, and bring a case against unequal funding of speakers. Otherwise, the law is nothing more than words--and those who control the money know they can present one-sided viewpoints.

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