Controversy over conservative filmaker Dinesh D’Souza’s upcoming speech at UNCG

University says "we're excited" to have D'Souza on campus

Conservative commentator and best-selling author, Dinesh D'Souza. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

RALEIGH — An upcoming visit to UNC Greensboro by conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza set off allegations from a conservative campus organization that the N.C. university was charging the group more than the campus charged Hillary Clinton for a similar visit.

In a post earlier today, Young America’s Foundation accused UNCG of violating its own policies for campus events by charging the conservative students a fee to host D’Souza. The post drew a response from N.C. Lt. Governor Dan Forest who offered to pay the fees to enable D’Souza to come to the Greensboro campus.

Reached by phone. Eden Bloss, senior director of media relations at UNCG said that the group was being charged $1 for the room and that most of the other fees were for audio-visual equipment and other costs associated with the event. “We are all about free speech,” said Bloss, while adding “we’re excited” to have D’Souza come to campus.

Bloss also provided the North State Journal with a copy of the contract for the event which lists a facility fee of $1 and estimated expenses of over $800, which includes staffing, cleanup, and other equipment costs.

Jamey Falkenbury, press secretary for Lt. Governor Forest, said their office had “been informed by the group organizing the event that the UNCG administration has reversed course and waived the fees.” Falkenbury added, “We think this decision by the Administration is the appropriate course of action.”

Subsequently, the Young America’s Foundation updated their initial statement that “As of 5pm ET today, the powers that be at UNCG corrected the error they previously stood by and at last followed their own policy that requires an event hosted and organized by one of their students be treated as such.”

UNCG’s administration sent the group a letter that included the following:

The University agrees to your request to have the speaking event scheduled for November 2, 2017, considered as a “Group B (University events with fees, and University-related events)”, according to the UNCG Facility Use Policy. While this classification does waive the normal Facility Use fee (there is a $1.00 fee for contractual purposes), it is important to note that the event will not be without cost to the student group. Specifically, UNCG College Republicans will still be responsible for technical needs and staffing, including UNCG Police, at cost; your group will also be responsible for 28% Administrative Fee of the total fees for the event, per your requested use of the Facility Use Policy. Draft/estimate costs will be outlined to you, in writing, following a logistics meeting. Actual costs will be billed after the event and all costs are computed.

As has been indicated from the very beginning of this conversation about a speaker, the University’s requirements for speaking events on campus, include a contract or facility use agreement, indemnification of the University, and insurance.  In order to allow for appropriate mobilization of staff, planning, security, and equipment, there are three specific needs before 5:00pm on Wednesday, October 25, 2017:

1 Signed Facility Use Contract.  You have already received a draft Facilities Use contract to review.  Please see the attached contract for you to execute with your third-party event sponsor.  Changes to the contract are not allowed. In accordance with standard practice for all student organizations, completion of this contract, signed by both parties, is necessary before you begin advertising for this event.

2 Insurance.  As with all university events, they will still need to furnish proof of insurance, with liability limits of $1,000,000 per occurrence and $2,000,000 general aggregate, which names UNCG, including its trustees, officers, employees, and agents as Additional Insureds for the said purpose and use of the Agreement. 

3 Logistics Meeting.  Most larger events, events with security requirements, and events open to the public require an Event Logistics Meeting.  At this meeting, you need to have full details for the speaker’s requirements: microphones, video and audio needs, stage and spotlight lighting, technology needs, furniture for the pre-function area and stage, food and catering needs, parking, and other details.  The most successful events have Event Logistics Meetings with full, complete, and detailed information.

D’Souza is scheduled to speak on campus November 2 in YAF’s nationwide campus lecture program, this one called “D’Souza Unchained.” According to the contract, his speech is entitled, “The Nazi Roots of the American Left.”