A U.S. District Court judge granted the University of Washington College Republicans (UWCRs) a temporary restraining order Friday morning, preventing the UW from billing the club a $17,000 security fee. The planned event with Patriot Prayer will proceed.
"The temporary restraining order issued today by U.S. District Court Judge Marsha J. Pechman prevents the University of Washington from charging what we believe is a reasonable fee toward the amount of security necessary to maintain a safe environment for an event, until a final ruling is made by the court," UW spokesperson Victor Balta said in a statement. "The UW will comply with the terms of the temporary restraining order, but this legal process is ongoing and we will continue to advocate for charging reasonable security fees to campus groups based on objective criteria."
Balta added that the security cost of the event is estimated to exceed $50,000, and the $17,000 figure presented to the club represents only a portion of what is necessary for UWPD to keep attendees safe.
On Tuesday, Freedom X, the law firm representing the UWCRs, sued the UW over the assessed $17,000 fee for both a temporary restraining order commanding the university to waive or substantially reduce the fee based on content neutral factors as well as a lawsuit asking for an order declaring the UW’s security fee policy unconstitutional in violation of the First and 14th Amendments.
A number of student groups are planning to counterprotest.
UW President Ana Mari Cauce released a statement Friday morning asserting the UW’s commitment to “constitutional rights of freedom of expression through our work as a public university,” but also cautioned students to avoid Red Square on Saturday afternoon for their own safety.
"Civil, rigorous and passionate debate on myriad issues are the hallmark of a major public university, and the UW works hard to maintain an environment where ideas can be shared and challenged," Balta concluded. "However, recent events both here at the UW and around the country have demonstrated the need for significant police presence on Saturday, and that level of security comes at a cost. We maintain that this cost should not be covered by other students’ tuition dollars."
Reach News Editor Molly Quinton at email@example.com. Twitter: @molly_quinton