The College Republicans have a $2 million insurance policy that they had taken out as a standard practice for events at UC Davis, records acquired by the Vanguard show.
When the Milo Yiannopoulos event was canceled back on January 13, a lot of fingers were pointed as to what happened. Many of the accounts were conflicting. Part of the problem was that communications were taking place during real time, and conditions changed rapidly on the ground.
Immediately following the cancellation, the university issued a statement, “After consulting with UC Davis Police Department and UC Davis Student Affairs officials, the Davis College Republicans canceled tonight’s event featuring Breitbart columnist Milo Yiannopoulos. The decision was made at about 7:00 pm, 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start of the event, after a large number of protesters blocked access to the venue, and it was determined that it was no longer feasible to continue with the event safely.”
And while Acting Chancellor Ralph Hexter expressed his regrets that the event was cancelled, Mr. Yiannopoulos himself at a protest the next day quickly pointed the finger back at the university, calling the university administration “liars” in describing what happened and the events that led to the cancellation.
As he told the crowd and after that clarified to the Vanguard, it is true that the College Republicans had cancelled the speech, but that was because “they were told by police that they would be responsible for property damage.”
He told the Vanguard of his hopes with the march: “I want the university to admit that they intimidated those students into cancelling the event in violation of their First Amendment responsibilities.”
A public records request by the Vanguard, however, shows that the Davis College Republicans had taken out a $2 million general liability insurance policy that likely would have covered property damage as the result of this event. Moreover, the university has its own insurance.
UC Davis spokesperson Dana Topousis told the Vanguard over the phone that she does not believe that the university would have told the students they would be liable.
After some follow up, she confirmed that the Davis College Republicans “had an insurance policy with coverage of $2M. The insurance carrier determines coverage when a claim is made.”
She did not rule out that the student club could have been held responsible for damages. She told the Vanguard, “Depending on the circumstances, a student club could be held responsible for damages not covered by the insurance policy. Having said that, we want our student clubs to succeed and (we) do everything we can to educate them about managing risk during events to help them make informed decisions.”
Documents obtained by the Vanguard show that the Davis College Republicans first made the event request for Milo Yiannopoulos back in July. At that time, they described, “The event involves a highly visible/popular speaker or artist.” They indicated the need for searches and door security.
In November they applied for a grant from the Club Finance Council. They were granted $232.50 to pay for a portion of the cost for Aggie Hosts to provide security at the event. CFC Funding comes from ASUCD and PepsiCo, Inc.
The total cost for security according to their form was $405, of which the remaining $172.50 came from “donations.”
“I am deeply disappointed with the events of this evening,” said Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter. “Our community is founded on principles of respect for all views, even those that we personally find repellent. As I have stated repeatedly, a university is at its best when it listens to and critically engages opposing views, especially ones that many of us find upsetting or even offensive.”
The university confirmed, however, that despite some reports to the contrary, “there were no broken windows or other property damage during the protest. Earlier in the evening, one person was arrested inside the venue. No further arrests were made.”
This seems to be backed up by a statement from Ms. Topousis indicating that “there have been no claims made to our knowledge.”
There were reports that Martin Shkreli, known as “Pharma bro,” was hit with “dog poop” during the protests. A video reportedly showed Mr. Shkreli surrounded by cameras and appearing to wipe something off his eye after someone hurled an unknown substance at him.
In an email, Mr. Shkreli denied that, telling the publication Mashable in an email, “There was no poop thrown, unfortunately. This is what they call ‘fake news.’ There was something thrown—my security determined it to be leaves, which I brushed off. The lack of smell, stain or other obvious findings eliminates the possibility.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Yiannopoulos posted on Facebook that UC Davis was lying to the press. “They keep saying that the College Republicans were the ones to shut down the event last night. Not true. My staff were in meetings with the campus police and university administrators last night and were told by them that the event could not proceed. “
However, the next day, the story changed, where he acknowledged, it is true that the College Republicans had cancelled the speech, but that was because “they were told by police that they would be responsible for property damage.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting