Stanford University Republicans are pushing to host former Vice President Mike Pence, arguing they were unconstitutionally denied funding twice because of fears a conservative would be unwelcome on campus.
Stanford University Constitutional Council unanimously voted Tuesday to hear the case brought by the Stanford College Republicans against the Undergraduate Senate. Both sides were given seven days to prepare arguments before the case is scheduled to be heard next week on Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. PT.
Stanford College Republicans have been trying to bring Pence to campus for a speaking engagement in February. SCR Officer Stephen Sills first applied for $6,000 in funding for the “winter quarter” event in November, but the Undergraduate Senate rejected the request twice in December.
A complaint filed at the start of the semester argues the Undergraduate Senate is “constitutionally obliged” to accept the request for funding to cover event services and the costs of the maintaining the venue.
COVID-19 concerns are being used to mask the true discrimination against Pence and welcoming someone with conservative views to speak on campus, the group argues.
After the first request was denied, Sills indicated that the Stanford College Republicans were willing to require mask wearing and follow all county and university COVID-19 protocols for the event.
But the request was denied a second time not because too many senators voted against funding, but because too many student senators abstained from voting on whether to block the Pence event.
The Stanford Daily reported in December that the request was ultimately denied after “senators weighed student safety, freedom of speech and COVID-19 protocols.”
When Sills requested clarification on the reasoning of the decision, Appropriations Chair Jaden Morgan responded that “the primary factors that some senators considered were the event size, security logistics, and public health,” according to the complaint.
The university went on to host a ballet performance of “The Nutcracker” in December.
The student newspaper reported that some senators abstained not because of COVID concerns, but because of moral or ideological objections to hosting Pence.
According to the newspaper, one student senator remarked that abstaining meant avoiding having “blood on my hands, and I think that there are personal fundamental values to me as a person that got me elected to the senate that is strictly contradictory to voting in favor of this funding.”
“We are allowed to make moral judgments if we want to,” another senator remarked, according to the newspaper. “If you vote against the speaker it is fine to vote in that way.”
A third student senator added, “if you think that you don’t want to morally give them the money, that is perfectly fine.” “We’re allowed to make moral judgments if we want to,” that student said. “As a senator, as an individual human being, you’re allowed to weigh your options, both technically and morally. So if you’re against the individual speaker, then I think it’s fine to vote in that way.”
Fox News Digital reached out Thursday to Stanford University, Stanford College Republicans and the Undergraduate Senate for additional comment. In 2019, the Undergraduate Senate was forced to reverse its decision to deny funding for an event hosting political commentator Dinesh D’Souza.
If the council ultimately ruled in their favor, a representative for the Stanford College Republicans indicated Tuesday that the group would follow any public health modifications made due to the pandemic, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).