College Republicans face $3,600 security fee, confront College administrator with guest speaker

Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe and a member of the College Republicans went to the Collis Center in an effort to inquire about the fee.

by Arizbeth Rojas | 4/29/22 5:10am

by Tiffany Chang / The Dartmouth

Following a Dartmouth College Republicans event with conservative journalist Andy Ngo and libertarian activist Gabriel Nadales in January, the student organization incurred $3,600 in security-related fees from the College. According to College Republicans advisor and anthropology professor Sergei Kan, the organization, which did not expect to incur the fee, is now assessing “how they’re going to raise money” to pay the fee. 

Last Wednesday, when the College Republicans hosted Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe, the student group approached administrators to inquire about the security fee. According to director of student involvement David Pack, O’Keefe was joined by College Republicans president Chloe Ezzo ’22 and “showed up” outside Pack's office in Collis Center, filming the interaction. 

In a video posted to O’Keefe’s Instagram story, a student off-camera says to Pack, “We want to know why we’ve been saddled with $3,600 of debt.” 

In an emailed statement to The Dartmouth, Pack explained that O’Keefe and Ezzo were looking for senior assistant dean for student life Anna Hall. Pack wrote that he instructed Ezzo to schedule an appointment with Hall at a later time. After watching a video on O’Keefe’s Instagram account, Pack confirmed that he had been recorded by the group. 

“I suspected ... that I was being recorded, which I did not consent to, and I told those present that I did not give permission to be filmed,” Pack wrote. 

On Wednesday, the Hanover Police Department was made aware of “some type of unwanted videotaping,” although no official complaints have been made, according to Hanover Police Department captain James Martin. The department is not currently investigating and will not until someone comes forward and makes a complaint, he said. Determining the legality of the videotaping — as recording an in-person or telephone conversation without the consent of the two parties of the conversation is illegal in the state of New Hampshire — depends on multiple factors. 

“Different things that come into play with [legality], as far as [if it was] in a public access area,” Martin said. “Was it in a private place where somebody would have an expectation of privacy?” 

According to College spokesperson Diana Lawrence, the College is “investigating the incident.” 

“Any policy or legal violations, including the recording of individuals without their consent, will be followed up on,” Lawrence wrote. 

The College Republicans are still carrying a deficit, according to Lawrence. Lawrence wrote in an emailed statement that the group received an emailed estimate of the security fee on Jan. 17, three days before the event was scheduled to take place. Despite this, COSO never received a funding request from the College Republicans, Lawrence wrote. 

“All student organizations holding events are responsible for related security costs, which are overseen by Dartmouth’s department of Safety and Security, and the [College Republicans] is no exception,” Lawrence wrote. 

According to Safety and Security director Keysi Montás, there is a flat security fee for all events, and Safety and Security charges $52 an hour per officer with a three-hour minimum. Safety and Security also makes staffing recommendations that are “appropriate” for the event, Montás said. The security detail for the Andy Ngo event on Jan. 20 included a number of Safety and Security officers as well as Hanover Police officers due to “safety issues.” 

According to Martin, a security detail provided by the Hanover Police Department is always paid by a private entity and not by town funds. 

“Whoever is promoting the event has to pay for the detail,” Martin said. “Sometimes it’s Dartmouth College, if it’s a school event, or if it’s on behalf of a club, then [the club] would pay [the detail cost].” 

Kan, who became the College Republicans’ advisor in the fall of 2021, said that two weeks before the club hosted O’Keefe — the College Republicans’ first scheduled speaker event since hosting Ngo and Nadales — he attended a COSO hearing with members of the club, including Ezzo. The purpose of the meeting was to “plead” with COSO to waive or reduce the fee, Kan said. 

“My impression from hearing [Ezzo] talk about it is that they didn’t expect to be hit with such a large fee,” Kan said. 

Regarding online threats prior to the Ngo and Nadales event, Kan said that the group of students who “hate” the Republican students, such as the Dartmouth Anarchists, are not large, but are “vocal” and “energized.” According to Kan, the College then uses that as a “justification” for charging the College Republicans “large fees.” 

“It’s frustrating to me and to the students that they seem to be the only student organization that ends up owing money, because they’re the only organization that generates some strong negative rhetoric and threats online,” Kan said. 

Ezzo wrote in an email to The Dartmouth that the fees are “disgraceful” and there has been an “absolute failure” from COSO to protect the group’s freedom of expression. 

“Instead, [the College has] chosen to stick our group with thousands of dollars of security fees from the Andy Ngo event that the Dartmouth administration unilaterally moved to Zoom,” she wrote. 

On Jan. 26, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, an organization that focuses on protecting the freedom of expression on college campuses, sent a letter to the College “concerned” with the state of free speech on campus after the Ngo event had been moved to Zoom. According to FIRE, the College responded that the College Republicans had been free to exercise their freedom of speech.

“From where I stand, the College has gone above and beyond to make sure that every voice is heard on campus,” Montás said. 

Last week, the O’Keefe event proceeded as planned. 

“All questions addressed to O’Keefe were friendly, it was almost strange,” Kan said. “[The event] went smoothly and the College was cooperative.” 

Hall referred requests for comment to Lawrence. College Republicans vice president Victoria Xiao ’22 and O’Keefe did not respond to a request for comment. College Republicans faculty advisor and engineering professor Ronald Lasky declined to be interviewed. 

Correction appended (Apr. 29, 11:05 a.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to David Pack and Anna Hall as director of student life and chair of COSO, respectively. Pack is the director of student involvement and Hall is the senior assistant dean for student life. The article has been updated. 

Correction appended (Apr. 29, 11:15 a.m.): A previous version of this article stated that Safety and Security officers are paid $50 an hour for event security detail. Safety and Security charges $52 per hour per officer for event security details, but officers are not paid the full rate. The article has been updated.