With Karl Rove’s visit just over a week away, tensions between host-group UCSB College Republicans and SB Anti War are mounting.
Rove, who acquired the nickname “Bush’s Brain” after serving as a top advisor to former President George W. Bush, will address Campbell Hall on Feb. 25 to introduce his new book, Courage and Consequence. The event’s cost — which totaled $25,000 — was partially met through funding from Associated Students, a decision that has generated unrest with SB Anti War. Members of the group are planning to hold a protest the night of the event and have been collecting signatures in an effort to rescind the funding put up by A.S.
According to Ryan McNicholas, the College Republicans’ event coordinator, the possibility of a protest has forced security costs to rise.
“The argument has become more of a security issue,” McNicholas said. “Because of protester threats to throw paint on Rove, we have had to redirect more of the funds we received into security costs.”
Taking into account SB Anti-War’s protests, McNicholas said the projected costs of security for the event now far exceed the security presence required by Rove’s camp.
“It’s costing us somewhere around $900 an hour to have all the Campus Security Officers and UCPD officers necessary to secure the area,” McNicholas said. “And it’s absolutely ridiculous to force a small organization, like College Republicans, to foot that bill.”
Melisa Torbati, fourth-year communication major and member of SB Anti War, said she doesn’t want students beholden to the costs of bringing Rove to campus.
“He’s entitled to free speech, but not with our money,” Torbati said.
Representatives from SB Anti War have approached A.S. on multiple occasions, via the Legislative Council’s public forum, seeking to rescind the portion of student fees given to the College Republicans to fund Rove’s appearance.
“As far as I could tell, the biggest problem [for SB Anti War] was that the student fees were going towards bringing a war criminal to campus,” A.S. Internal VP Chris Wendle said. “They didn’t want their student funds to go to someone who has been subpoenaed by Congress.”
According to Wendle, the decision to fund $12,933 for the event had nothing to do with Rove’s character, but rather adherence to A.S. legal code.
“We have to follow the rules. We’re not going to debate the political opinion of an event, regardless of whether or not it’s Karl Rove,” Wendle said. “Basically, our decision to provide funding was objective.”
Members of SB Antiwar, however, said it is Rove’s alleged criminal activity, not his conservative ideals, that make him unfit to address the campus.
“Karl Rove lied to the American people about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and successfully diverted the war from where it was originally fought, in Afghanistan,” third-year history major and member of SB Antiwar Nicholas Di Masi said. “If you want to make it an ideological issue, I myself am a Republican. He’s not a Republican, he’s just a liar.”
Contrary to the opinion of College Republicans, first-year global studies major and member of SB Antiwar Alessandro Morosin said the group is not attempting to impede on Rove’s right to speak.
“We’re not trying to prevent him from speaking,” Morosin said. “But what we are doing is challenging, very vigorously, the legitimacy of this individual and the policies he is associated with. We’re not trying to take away the right to free speech. We are engaging in a protest of the man and his policies.”