Records Show College Republicans Had $2 Million Insurance Policy

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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

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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15 thoughts on “Records Show College Republicans Had $2 Million Insurance Policy”

  1. Tia Will

    Good job of investigating and reporting David. I think it is clear who is trying to deceive with regard to the events of that evening. “Reports of” something happening, such as property damage, is not the same as the event actually occurring, but allowed MY to claim victim status in the first round of news as well as a platform for his “free speech” event the next day.  Same with the claim of wanting the university to admit to his initial version of reason for cancellation, rather than the truth. And with Skrelli pushing a protester and then allowing a false accusation of “poop” throwing to circulate….and be claimed as an actual event here on the Vanguard as well as other sources prior to admitting the truth.

    These self promoters are masters of manipulation of social media and presentation of “alternative facts”. They are well aware that many more people will see, and become outraged by, the initial “reports” regardless of their veracity or lack thereof than will stay around to learn and consider what actually happened.

    1. Chuck Rairdan

      Is it clear? Looks to me that there was some triangulation involved to avoid any clear attribution as to who or by what demands the event was shut down. To insist that the inviting party be liable for damages done by opposing protesters is tantamount to mob style intimidation and suppression of free speech. If individuals are ultimately responsible for their own actions, then a collection of individuals doesn’t magically lose that responsibility when acting in solidarity. Perhaps the UC Police Department was working to avoid a PR situation in having to crack down on an unruly mob opposing a locally unpopular figure. If so, that is putting politics over fundamental 1st Amendment rights any way it is sliced or spun.

        1. Chuck Rairdan

          Often a challenge to get the full story, David, so appreciate your efforts to fill in some gaps. Overall, I’d say the optics on this one are not favorable to the protestors. Had it occurred to them to just let the event go off without interference or by making a statement through other means? By choosing the path they did, I think it just served to highlight the larger issues of free speech at play here and did not shed a favorable light on them as a result. On the other hand, to bring this to the surface for the community’s examination and reflection is also a plus.

    2. Alan Miller

      These self promoters are masters of manipulation of social media and presentation of “alternative facts”.

      This could also be said of the last-minute social-media campaign that killed the Nishi project – also “alt-facts”.

  2. Keith O

    Despite the deflection, make no mistake about it, the event was cancelled because of the actions of the protesters and safety concerns.  The protesters chanted “shut it down” and when they got their way they shouted who shut it down, we shut it down.  Free speech was denied that night by protesters on the UC Davis campus.

    1. Tia Will

      Well if we are going to be highlighting the word “because” lets review the chain of events that led up to the decision by the College Republicans to cancel their own event. There was a protest “because” the College Republicans chose from amongst many, many choices of speakers who have conservative views both financial and social and religious, they chose an individual who is a purveyor of inflammatory remarks and personal attacks disguised as “humor”.  It further happened “because” they chose to dismiss the politely expressed concerns of those who find this particular speaker objectionable.  If further happened “because” having insisted on this particular course of action, they chose not to fully accept responsibility for their choices and called off the event.

      As I have often stated I believe that everyone needs to take responsibility for their own actions. I do not believe that the protestors chose the best course of action. I support freedom of speech and assembly. I never support violent action that is not done in self defense or defense of another. Pushing, shoving, and throwing objects are not acceptable actions and are documented coming from both sides that evening.

      Both sides have plenty to answer for on that evening. But if we are going to discuss “because” let’s admit that “because” started with ill advised choices by the College Republicans who I believe knew exactly what they were doing when they invited this self promotional provocateur with his hate speech disguised as comedy to the campus. None of this would have happened had the invited speaker been an actual purveyor of ideas rather than hate speech for fun, fame and profit.

      1. Keith O

         Pushing, shoving, and throwing objects are not acceptable actions and are documented coming from both sides that evening.

        99% of any pushing, shoving, spraying Milo attendees with a smelly substance, throwing barricades, swearing, spitting, denying access to the event, etc…. was coming from one side which were the protesters that were shutting down free speech.  You can pick out one shove from the other side and try and claim it was equal coming from both sides but the videos of the protest show otherwise.  False equivalency.

        1. Tia Will

          Keith

          I made absolutely no claim of equality. I stand my ground that each individual involved in any way is responsible for his own actions. However, I would point out that Skrelli does in my view have one special responsibility as a “speaker” at the event aimed primarily at students to serve as a model for appropriate behavior. In this he had a special behavioral failure.

  3. David Greenwald Post author

    Some other considerations…

    While I’m not unsympathetic to the argument that the protesters blocked the protest causing its cancellation, there is an alternative narrative that should at least be explored – and that is that the organizers of this event and Milo used the protests to their advantage.

    Observe:

    1. They had insurance for the January 13 event, but there was no insurance and no police presence the next day.  As it turns out the protesters largely (there were a few there) didn’t show up on the 14th, but I don’t think Milo or the DCR’s knew or could have known this in advance.

    2. So they get shut down due to safety concerns, but yet take the more risky path the next day without insurance, Aggie Hosts or police?

    Doesn’t that at least open the possibility that they didn’t have to shut down the event on Friday, but chose to do so so they could make a point and be able to claim moral outrage?

    I can’t prove it, but it’s at least possible.

  4. Theodore DSternberg

    It’s pretty clear that the protesters set out — and succeeded — to “abridge” the UCD College Republicans’ “freedom of speech” as well as their “right peaceably to assemble”.

    Maybe then the penalty should be in line with what would come down on a mob that prevented people from exercising other Constitutional rights, say the right to vote. Picture the Ku Klux Klan fanning out on election day to keep African Americans away from the polls.

    5 years?  10?

  5. Tia Will

    Theodore

    I think that you raise a very interesting point. We, as a society, are rightly very concerned about mob action and are fearful of events happening “in our streets”. We seem much less concerned about “mob” action provoked by those using social media as their weapon to stir up violence against others which has been a favored platform for MY. We also seem much less concerned about the more pernicious acts of some legislators to use the law to prevent select groups of people from voting.

    As for valuing freedom of speech, I would point to the highest level of our government as setting the tone.

    “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while,” Mr. Bannon said in an interview on Wednesday.”

    The important point here is not whether the media should be “embarrassed and humiliated”, it is that a chief advisor to the current president believes that the media should “keep it’s moth shut”.

     

    1. Keith O

      We also seem much less concerned about the more pernicious acts of some legislators to use the law to prevent select groups of people from voting.

      Pernicious acts like making them provide an I.D.?  PUHlease…..

  6. Tia Will

    I didn’t say that. There are multiple other actions that legislators have taken to limit group voting power. Gerrymandering is one example. Lessening hours at government offices where people have to go to get said ID’s is another. Shortening voting hours and limiting early voting yet another. I have little problem with checking ID’s. I have a great deal of difficulty with making the acquisition of an ID or the type of ID allowable for select groups more difficult.

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