Kent State changes policy for security during student organized events

Kent State alumna Kaitlin Bennett and her boyfriend Justin Moldow speak about the second amendment at an event held by Liberty Hangout in the KIVA on Nov. 19, 2018.

David Williams

Kent State has overturned its policy of holding student organizations financially responsible for security at their events. According to court documents the university will not charge any registered student organization security fees for events hosted on campus.

The policy drew scrutiny in November when Kent State announced they’d be charging Liberty Hangout $14,000 in security fees for their Sept. 29 open-carry walk, for which the university spent $65,000

In November, Kent State billed conservative student group Liberty Hangout $1,800 in security fees for “Let’s Talk Gun Rights” an event at which Kent State graduate Kaitlin Bennett was a speaker. Liberty Hangout filed a lawsuit against the University shortly after the bill was announced.

The change comes days before a Dec. 13 hearing for the lawsuit. Kent State argues that the policy change renders Liberty Hangout’s lawsuit moot and has asked that the hearing be cancelled. Liberty Hangout has opposed Kent State’s motion to dismiss the hearing, citing uncertainty over other policies in relation to charging student organizations.

In mid-November, Federal Judge John Adams blocked Kent State from charging Liberty Hangout, saying he was “gravely concerned” that the policy violated students’ right to free speech.

This concern was echoed by Liberty Hangout’s attorney Bill Becker, who said the lawsuit has its roots in the 1st and 14th Amendments.

“My clients deserve to be treated equally,” Becker said.

As pending litigation, Kent State declined to comment.

 David Williams is a general assignment reporter. Contact him at [email protected].