Milo Yiannopoulos is welcome at Cal State Bakersfield.
But his host, the CSUB College Republicans group, must follow the university’s event policy as it coordinates his visit, University Counsel Chelsea Epps wrote Friday in a letter to William Becker Jr., the lawyer for the student group.
And that could throw plans to host the flamboyant conservative firebrand, whose visits have triggered passionate and sometimes violent protests, for a loop.
“Please rest assured that the university welcomes the planned use by your client of the Icardo Center on October 25, 2017 for the Yiannopoulos event, and that it has not violated your client’s constitutional rights,” Epps wrote. “The university takes great pride in protecting free expression of diverse viewpoints, subject of course to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.”
Those restrictions are the rub.
Under university policy — which has been in place since 2010 — there are two ways the College Republicans group can hand out tickets to the Yiannopoulos event, which is a commercial event, Epps wrote.
It can sell tickets only to CSUB students, each of whom would be allowed to purchase up to two additional tickets for guests.
That would force members of the public who want to attend to find a CSUB student willing to buy a ticket for them.
Epps wrote the group can open the event to the general public and make the tickets free. But that would place the cost of Yiannopoulos' $20,000 speaker fee squarely on the College Republicans group.
“Your client’s request to sell tickets for an event open to the general public is not permitted by university policy. Your client may use university facilities to host the Yiannopolous event, provided that tickets are offered to the public at no charge. If your client does not, at this time, have the funds to pay Mr. Yiannopolous’ $20,000 fee, the Office of Student Involvement will work with your client to find a suitable alternate date for the Yiannopolous event,” Epps wrote.
Becker said he didn’t understand why university policy allows students to buy tickets but doesn’t extend that ability to the general public.
He said he is looking into several questions her letter raised for him.
“I’ve asked the attorney to please explain the rationale for the restriction on sales of tickets to the public but have not heard back,” Becker said.
He also noted that the university appears to have allowed other groups to host speakers at events open to the general public – pointing to a May 1, 2014, Hoffman Hospice event with Michael J. Fox as the speaker.
Becker asked Epps to explain the difference between that event and the Yiannopoulos one.
Cal State Bakersfield Director of Public Affairs and Communications Michael Lukens told The Californian that the Hoffman event and activities like CSUB basketball games have different sponsors than the Yiannopoulos event. That triggers different sets of rules.
Athletic games are official university sponsored events, he said.
Events like the Hoffman Hospice one, Lukens said, are governed by policies for off-campus organizations that wish to use CSUB facilities. Hoffman rented the Icardo Center and paid for everything from security to utilities, custodial services and parking, he said.
As an on-campus university student group the CSUB College Republicans is not required to pay those expenses but is limited in its ability to sell tickets to the event it is hosting, Lukens said.
Paid tickets are an issue for the CSUB College Republicans, Becker said earlier this week, because Yiannopoulos, also a former Breitbart editor, is charging the group a $20,000 fee for his appearance.
Epps, in her letter, stated that the deadline for the College Republicans group to finalize the Oct. 25 visit is Monday.
But the university will, this one time, offer to extend that deadline.
“The university will extend the deadline to Friday, September 29, at 5:00 p.m. for your client to notify the university about its intent to hold this event on October 25, provide all required documentation, and confirm its compliance with applicable university policies and procedures. Alternatively, your client may reschedule the event if it needs more time to plan,” Epps wrote.
Becker said he is working with his clients to see if they can make that extended deadline.
“We’re reviewing our options. We’ve been given an additional week,” he said. “We are hopeful the event will be put on sometime at the university.”