Here's how much security costs when an incendiary speaker comes to campus
Conservative speaker Ben Shapiro is set to speak Thursday at the University of California-Berkeley. The university, he said, set a condition for his appearance: shelling out $15,000 for security fees.
According to the university, security measures for Shapiro's Berkeley talk include "an increased and highly visible police presence."
And later this month, highly controversial conservative speakers Milo Yiannopolous and Ann Coulter are scheduled to go to Berkeley for a "free speech week" event, sparking further concerns over campus safety.
Where are there safety concerns, there's security. And where there's security, there are costs.
"We anticipate very significant costs, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars," Dan Mogulof, assistant vice chancellor for communications and the office of public affairs at UC Berkeley, tells USA TODAY College. "We accept that without complaint. That sort of expenditure is necessary to support our commitment to free speech and student safety."
Berkeley has good reason to be bracing itself, considering that violent protests kept Yiannopoulos from speaking there last winter and that security concerns led to the cancellation of a Coulter event in the spring (protesters showed up anyway).
Indeed, protests on turning down requests for white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak on their campuses.
Here's how three universities dealt with the security issues -- including costs -- last year when controversial speakers came to campus.
Ann Coulter was preparing to visit Berkeley on April 27 but cancelled after a student chapter of Young America's Foundation sponsoring her talk withdrew its support.
According to UC Berkeley then-Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, the university cancelled the event because it could not find a suitable venue to host Coulter. Dirks told NPR that "we cannot allow it to be held in a venue with a limited number of exits; in a hall that cannot be cordoned off; in an auditorium with floor to ceiling glass; in any space that does not meet basic safety criteria established by UCPD."
Almost $900,000 was spent responding to protests at UC Berkeley in the 2016-17 year, according to the Daily Cal, the student newspaper.
These speakers did not pay for their own security costs -- the university did.
Most of the security expenses for the Coulter event were spent on personnel. "Basically, almost 80 to 90% of funds (totaling $600,000) were spent on manpower," Mogulof tells USA TODAY College.
Dirks had issued a statement expressing concern over campus safety prior to the Coulter event, saying that "this is a university, not a battlefield."
"We have a police department on campus which is completely adequate for normal times, but given intelligence they have received of the intention of external groups to come to campus in order to either contest the culture appearance or oppose it, we thought we needed to bring, based on guidance from law enforcement professionals, hundreds of additional police officers from other UC campuses as well as nearby law enforcement agencies."
Mogulof says he can't specify the exact number of police officers "so as not to give information that might be useful to those who intend to come to campus to break the law," but said the number of personnel was in the hundreds.
He adds that travel expenses, overtime pay, room and board, renting barriers and other equipment created additional costs. The total spent on law enforcement on the Coulter event was approximately $600,000, he tells USA TODAY College.
In comparison, in January, Milo Yiannapolous' visit to campus cost the university $220,000 for security.
Mogulof says UC Berkeley makes its decisions about security on a case-by-case basis, with consultation from law enforcement.
“Our plan is to put the resources and people in place necessary to provide security for our campus community, guests and the public at large. [For] security arrangements, there’s no cookie cutter approach. Every event is different," Mogulof says. "And the arrangements that are made are based on the guidance of law enforcement professionals which in turn is based on the intelligence they’re able to develop about the possibility of problems or disruption.”
The main concern with Richard Spencer's visit to Auburn on April 18 was safety. Police predicted Spencer's appearance would pose a threat to the campus and the public.
"Based on an assessment of possible civil unrest and criminal activity during a requested event, it is the opinion of the Auburn Police Division that allowing Mr. Richard Spencer to proceed with his appearance at Foy Hall on April 22 would pose a real threat to public safety," police told the school newspaper, The Plainsman.
The university originally cancelled Spencer's visit to the eastern Alabama campus due to safety concerns, but a federal judge overruled it. At the anti-Spencer protest that sprang up when he appeared to speak, three people were arrested and one person was bloodied.
Unlike UC Berkeley, Auburn University did not pay for security costs. Spencer himself paid the security costs for the event, according to university spokesperson Mike Clardy. Spencer paid $700 to rent out the auditorium, including security fees that paid for the Auburn Police Division to be on site, according to an AL.com report.
USA TODAY College filed a public records request with the City of Auburn Police Department regarding the costs Spencer covered for security. But according to David Dorton, director of public affairs for the city, a budget detailing Spencer's security costs does not exist: "A situation like this is handled as it arises and as details become clear, with personnel from multiple regional law enforcement agencies involved, so there’s really not a document that communicates the cost or a budget for this event specifically."
“Auburn is a public university, and at the time our meeting space was for rent by outside parties. The City of Police Division provides public safety and law enforcement for campus. Spencer paid the security costs for that event," Clardy tells USA TODAY College.
University of Washington
Yiannopolous' Jan. 20 visit to the Seattle campus resulted in violent protests, where one person, 32, was shot and wounded.
"I don't think anybody anticipates that one would become violent. I certainly think we always anticipate that there would be a large crowd and that there would be a lot of crowd control that would happen. But in terms of anything turning violent, I don't think anyone was expecting that to happen," University of Washington Police Department representative Steve Rittereiser tells USA TODAY College.
Months prior to the Yiannopolous event, the university police consulted with the college Republicans to discuss amount of attendees, ticket monitoring, general security and crowd control, according to Rittereiser.
But crowd control was difficult at the event, Rittereiser says. "Our main concern as a law enforcement agency is certainly the safety of the individuals, being able to have the event like any other event, we just want people to get to and from very safely. And in this case, we had a very large crowd that descended upon the area and made it very difficult to control that crowd," he says.
University of Washington police worked 200 hours of overtime, a cost it estimated at $20,000, Rittereiser says. The university also received assistance from 95 officers of the Seattle Police Department, who logged 750 hours and cost $55,000. Costs were primarily spent on personnel, with additional expenses for barricades and lighting at the event, which did not exceed $1,000, according to Rittereiser.
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Megan Schellong is a student at California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo and a USA TODAY College summer 2017 correspondent.
This story originally appeared on the USA TODAY College blog, a news source produced for college students by student journalists. The blog closed in September of 2017.