Boise State decides to change event policies

AP News
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Posted: Sep 16, 2014 6:56 PM

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Boise State University officials say they will change their on-campus event policies after private legal organizations said the school violated the First Amendment by charging a student organization security fees for a gun-rights event.

University officials had already reimbursed the students $465 but say they will now suspend the policies that allow them to charge for enhanced security.

The Idaho Freedom Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho said the fee was unconstitutional.

The organizations threatened to sue after the Young Americans for Liberty student group sponsored a campus speech by gun-rights advocate Dick Heller in May. Boise police then decided to staff the event with extra officers to ensure safety after the school discovered a community member encouraging those attending Heller's talk to openly carry firearms on campus.

"We assure you that our policies were not written and are not applied for the purpose of restricting the expression of any viewpoint," wrote Boise State attorney Kevin Satterlee in a letter. "However, we recognize that you have taken issue with the possibility that university officials could exercise discretion in a way that might violate a speaker's freedom of expression."

The university also said Tuesday it will suspend five other rules where enforcement is dependent on subjective discretion, such as allowing exceptions for sound amplification and scheduling events on Boise State property.

The rules will be suspended until the university finishes revising them.

"Our goal throughout this process has been to work with the university to revise some of its policies," said Geoffrey Talmon, director for the Idaho Freedom Foundation's Center for Defense of Liberty. "We are happy BSU is working with us and ACLU of Idaho to make the university a place where speech is protected and encouraged."

Talmon added that he hoped Boise State's actions will be copied by other college campuses with similar on-campus event policies.