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Student group sues school for allegedly trying to cancel Riley Gaines event by jacking security fees

The Southeastern Legal Foundation alleges that the school only raised the speaking fees after it found out Gaines was speaking. 

Published: February 27, 2024 1:43pm

A conservative student group at the University of New Mexico says the school had demanded increased security for an upcoming speech it's paying for by women's sports activist Riley Gaines to the extent the group can no longer afford the event, resulting in a federal lawsuit arguing the school's move is an attempt to stifle free speech.

The suit was filed Tuesday by the Southeastern Legal Foundation on behalf of the Turning Point USA chapter at the university and the Leadership Institute.

It alleges the university charged the student groups over $5,000 in security fees to host Gaines due to her views on biological men competing in women's sports, which resulted in massive protests at other schools.

"Rather than meet its duty to staff security with money from its multi-million dollar endowment, to protect the students, and to remove any potential hecklers from the crowd, UNM instead imposed a hefty fee on the students that they surely would not be able to afford," the Southeastern Legal Foundation stated.

Gaines is a former NCAA swimmer who is one of the most vocal of athletes advocating against  biological males competing in women's sports due to her racing against transgender swimmer Lia Thomas. 

The Southeastern Legal Foundation alleges that the school only raised the speaking fees after it found out Gaines was speaking.

 “Turning Point USA is the only conservative group left on UNM’s campus, and it is no wonder," said CeCe O'Leary, director of SLF’s legal initiatives. "When students have to pay thousands of dollars every time they want to engage in basic speech activities—the very thing they are supposed to be doing during their college years – eventually they stop speaking and assembling altogether." 

The University of New Mexico has not responded for comment at this time. 

The case is active in the District Court of New Mexico. 

 

 

 

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