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Controversial Dinesh D’Souza event tentatively set for Feb. 28, pending funding

GAGE SKIDMORE / Wikimedia Commons

Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza has “confirmed” he will speak at Stanford on Feb. 28, according to a Monday statement from the Young America’s Foundation (YAF).

The announcement by YAF — a conservative youth group collaborating with the Stanford College Republicans (SCR) to bring D’Souza to Stanford — follows weeks of controversy as SCR attempts to secure University funding for the event.

Stanford’s Undergraduate Senate has twice denied funding for the D’Souza event amid operational concerns about the Senate’s appropriations processes. Although SCR has claimed that outside donors are willing to cover the entire cost of the event, official University policy requires that events in need of security or “extraordinary resources” obtain at least 50 percent of their funding from on-campus resources. Such funding has not yet been secured for SCR’s intended D’Souza event, despite the event’s security costs.

SCR linked YAF’s Monday statement on Facebook, but has not responded to The Daily’s multiple requests for comment regarding the circumstances of D’Souza’s event confirmation.

Stanford Student Affairs spokesperson Pat Harris noted in an email to The Daily that the University’s Student Activities and Leadership (SAL) office “is holding space for an SCR event on Feb. 28, a practical step SAL takes when student organizations are planning major events that require specific venues.”

Harris added that Student Affairs will not share further information on the event until after the start of winter quarter on Jan. 7.

“Conversations about this event are ongoing as SAL continues to work with both SCR and [the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU)],” Harris wrote.

According to SCR Executive Director Quinn Barry ’21, SCR has met with “officials very high up in the [University] administration [who] have stated to SCR and our affiliates that ASSU may have simultaneously violated their own constitution and engaged in viewpoint discrimination with their budget vote.”

Without ASSU funding, SCR is currently unable to use funds from outside sponsors to cover D’Souza’s event costs, according to a policy listed on the University’s Office of Special Events and Protocol (OSEP) webpage. 

“Recognized student organizations are responsible for the full cost of their events, but may offset up to 50 percent of the event cost through off-campus fundraising, provided such efforts are consistent with University policy and done with prior University approval,” the policy states.

While OSEP lists the policy on its website alongside others for “events requiring security or extraordinary resources,” YAF and SCR have suggested, incorrectly, that this policy is not publicly available, calling it an “unseen regulation.”

“Stanford did not respond to a request for comment on—or proof of—this unseen regulation,” wrote YAF spokesperson Spencer Brown.

Policies published to SAL’s website also state that, in cases of co-sponsorship, Stanford student groups must be the primary sponsors of an on-campus event.

“Student groups cannot be used to gain entry to university facilities at the request of an off-campus sponsor even if the program or cause seems like a worthy one,” the sponsorship and co-sponsorship guidelines read. “Such a practice is considered “fronting” and is strictly prohibited.”

Monday’s YAF statement follows weeks of debate between SCR and the ASSU Undergraduate Senate regarding the latter’s rejection of SCR’s $6,000 funding request for the D’Souza event. After originally citing alcohol costs as a reason for rejecting the request, the Senate held a special Sunday meeting on Dec. 9 to vote on an ASSU internal review of the entire standard grant process. At the meeting, the Senate rejected the review’s recommendations — which would have allocated $3,617 in travel and “event services” to the D’Souza event, along with changes to other groups’ funding requests — and reaffirmed its decision not to fund the event.

Later that day, SCR threatened legal action against the ASSU in a Facebook post, arguing that “[t]he student government is holding funds for other groups hostage to stop [the D’Souza] event.”

SCR’s accusations of discriminatory Stanford event policies come on the heels of a Dec. 5 settlement between YAF, the University of California at Berkeley and the Berkeley College Republicans — which, like SCR, is a chapter of the conservative California College Republicans — regarding Berkeley’s allegedly discriminatory policies restricting conservative speakers.

YAF collaborated with SCR last year to host conservative author and blogger Robert Spencer for an event on Stanford’s campus. The national organization intends to co-sponsor the Feb. 28 event as part of D’Souza’s “#FakeHistory Debunked Tour,” which included a protested Nov. 1 event at Michigan State University.

“We will not give up, and our partners at [YAF] are just getting started,” SCR wrote on Facebook.

The Daily has reached out to ASSU representatives for comment.

 

Contact Holden Foreman at hs4man21 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Erin Woo at erinkwoo ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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