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  • Azusa Pacific University's Hypocrisy on Free Speech

    10/10/2012 9:28:53 AM Posted by Patrick Coyle

    Exclusive to Fox News.

    Ashley BlackwellBy Ashley Blackwell 

    Administrators at Azusa Pacific University (APU) don't want you to learn the truth about their school. 

    I am an active student on campus working to promote the ideas of individual freedom, free enterprise, limited government, and traditional values.  During my time, I have attended a number of Young America's Foundation's programs held in Washington, D.C., and at the Reagan Ranch. Our conservative club has previously organized many Foundation activities on campus. One activity that we undertook was organizing the 9/11: Never Forget Project which we found necessary to organize because APU did not formally commemorate the anniversary. 

    This past spring, I became the chair of APU's conservative club on campus.  Just a few weeks into this current semester, I discovered that our required faculty advisor will be leaving the school, and I would need to find someone else to take over this role. Until we had an advisor we could not meet and hold any formal activities on campus. Essentially, I was starting from scratch.

    As I had a close association with Young America's Foundation, I assumed starting a Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter, which is a project of the Foundation, would be easy.

    I was wrong.  During a meeting with the executive director of "Communiversity" Chuck Strawn, I was told he and other administrators had problems with some language on YAF's national website, and he would not approve my request. I found the school's decisions to be completely puzzling considering YAF was founded in part by William F. Buckley who was deeply religious, there are YAF chapters at other religious schools, and YAF's activities have been warmly received at APU.

    In the school's official response to YAF's press release, the school encouraged my group to "keep its membership open to all conservative students." YAF chapters do welcome all conservative students, so that is not a valid reason to ban a YAF chapter from campus. They also cite that "YAF uses divisive language and embraces some forms of political activism that do not align with who we are as a university."

    Their argument that YAF uses "divisive" language immediately showcases a hypocrisy from our school's leaders. APU's website states that APU wants to "create an environment where differences of perspective are sought and respected for the enrichment of the entire community." However, the school cannot seek an atmosphere where differences in perspective are sought while at the same time censoring other views. YAF chapters hold the same non-profit tax status as APU, so none of our activities are "political" nor do we engage in "political activism." 

    Finally, I was told that we could continue using YAF's materials and literature, but we couldn't use the name.  Students who see us distributing YAF's literature could still encounter and read the "divisive" language the school complains about through the items we distribute on campus.

    Having visited President Reagan's Ranch near Santa Barbara, I am inspired by the words he wrote: "Remember your very title: you are Young Americans for Freedom. That is your mission above all others. You are most important in this particular moment of history, because so many of your peers have listened to false prophets and demagogues."

    Despite the needless roadblocks thrown up by school officials, I will keep advocating for YAF to be recognized at APU.

    Ashley Blackwell is a YAF activist and a current student at Azusa Pacific University

     

     

    • Readers' Comments

    • First YAF accused APU of limiting free speech of conservatives and banning a conservative club on campus. But as Ashley noted, there is a conservative club and they do get to express themselves, and they even use YAF materials to express themselves at APU. So, clearly, the inflammatory headlines used by YAF and Fox News are lies. Conservatives at APU have as much free speech and free association as anyone else at APU. Furthermore, as an APU student, Ashley is free to associate with YAF outside APU. What Ashley and YAF have yet to address is the core reason APU said no to YAF forming a chapter on their campus. APU cannot be forced to affiliate officially with YAF, because APU has a constitutional right as a religious organization to determine its own affiliations. The real hypocrisy here is that YAF claims to promote conservative values based in the Constitution. But in reality, the Constitution goes out the window when YAF gets told no. All that YAF and Ashley are doing now is proving that APU was right to deny them. YAF are using false and misleading headlines to try to demonize a conservative Christian institution that is trying to protect its values. They are throwing names at APU without evidence to back them up. How has free speech been limited anymore than anyone else at APU? How has their freedom of association been limited anymore than anyone else at APU? And Ashley, while it’s fine that you cite Reagan as your inspiration, the problem APU has with YAF is that APU would be much more impressed if you could make an argument based upon the words of Christ – that’s APU’s foundation. YAF operates as though Christ came to make the way for Reagan. As long as you put your brand of conservatism ahead of the private religious institutions values, you will be told no by such an institution. If you were at a public school, you’d be free to have a YAF chapter. But thank God we live in a country where religious organizations cannot be pushed around by people like YAF, because our Constitution protects us from secularization of our private religious campuses.
      Posted by Allen on 10/11/2012
    • Allen makes sense, when you frame yourself as upholders of the Constitution and your rights have not been violated in any way, why bully another with inflammatory headlines just to trample their rights in their own choice of freedom of association. It just doesn't make sense.
      Posted by Alex on 10/13/2012
    • My name is John Harris, and I am a graduate of Azusa Pacific University (Class of 1990). As a student, I was part of the Young Democrats, although I was farther to the left at the time, and remain so. There was also a Young Republicans group headed up by a close friend of mine. The two of us even debated the Gulf War in 1990. After graduation, we served together at a local evangelical church and later became partners in starting a new church geared at introducing Gen-Xers to Jesus. We disagree on politics, but are identical on religion. I have recently been made aware of the situation at Azusa Pacific University with the rejection of a YAF club. I have read Ashley’s article (see above) as well as an article about the issue by Patrick X. Coyle on several conservative web pages. As an American, and as an APU alum, I wish to stand with Ashley and the Conservative Club at APU. They should be able to call their club Young Americans for Freedom. YAF is a well-respected political organization, helping to train the next generation of conservative leaders. Among their board members is Edwin Meese, a well-respected Attorney General from a conservative Presidential administration. In the 1960s, many college campuses became concerned about having a Black Student Union (BSU) on campus, an organization with alleged ties to the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The Black Panther Party had made what many considered inflammatory comments about a variety of issues, and were seen as a threat due to their militant attitude that included carrying rifles and challenging police officers in the line of duty. Many American campuses wanted nothing to do with this kind of group. Azusa Pacific has sited the following quote from YAF’s material: "Radical feminists, big government bureaucrats, fringe environmentalists, race-baiters, Islamo-fascists, and run of the mill leftists are distraught that you would even think about promoting conservative ideas." While I do not support APU’s decision to deny a YAF on campus, I understand why they would not want to welcome a group with quotes such as this one. Like many Black Panther lines, it is inflammatory and in your face. In his article, Patrick X. Coyle suggests that “Conservative students are treated like second-class citizens on liberal campuses like Azusa Pacific University.” I am not sure what he is talking about. Azusa Pacific University was and remains a conservative institution, both in its religious ideology as well as its (unstated) politics. Most administrators, staff, and teachers are politically conservative, with noted exceptions. The freedom for students to deviate from the political norm has always been respected, as it is with almost all institutions of higher learning in the United States. Let me turn the tables for a moment. What if a left-leaning student organization promoted the following line: "Panicky patriarchs, warmongering colonialists, fringe libertarians, whitewashed Klansmen, Christo-fascists, and run of the mill right wingers are distraught that you would even think about promoting liberal ideas." Think about it. My conservative friend and I (see paragraph 1) would have never used words like this to describe one another’s views. We both understand that it shuts down discourse, causes division, and goes nowhere. It is inherently unbecoming. My advice to YAF is to remove statements such as these and replace them with messages that invite the other side into dialogue. Changing wording does not compromise someone’s position; it often enhances it. It should be noteworthy to YAF that a conservative institution like Azusa Pacific University would deny YAF an official place on campus. While the students at APU should continue to fight the administration’s decision, YAF, at the same time, should consider this matter a teachable moment. Mitt Romney has recently been in a bit of trouble over his “47%” comment. The problem is, Mitt Romney is a much better person, and a better candidate, than that comment he made. YAF is a much better organization than the line quoted by APU officials. The Black Panthers were much better than the militarism they projected.
      Posted by John Harris on 10/14/2012
    • John Harris has made perhaps the best argument for YAF I've seen since the controversy began. If YAF had people like Harris running it, APU would likely reconsider its position. I actually disagree that YAF should be at APU, because I think their diction is only one aspect of their divisiveness. It underlies a consistent pattern of taking issues out of context by trying to demonize one's opponent. See the article they posted about a student op-ed at Point Loma where YAF literally made up things the student did not say. If YAF stopped with not just the ad hominem attacks, but also the lapses in logic and the outright lies, then maybe APU should reconsider. If YAF had new leadership and Patrick Coyle were gone, then maybe they should reconsider. But Coyle is clearly behind misleading students, the media, and the public about the facts in many of these cases, not just APU. Just taking down their ad hominem attacks is not enough. There need to be consequences for deliberately lying.
      Posted by Allen on 10/14/2012
    • All these points about "so-called" divisiveness miss the point. No-one is allowed to regulate speech in America...students have a God-given right to free speech...even if their language is so-called "divisive." Of course, we ourselves are never "divisive," it's always the person with whom we disagree who is the "divisive" one. I think telling students they cannot form a YAF chapter is divisive and cruel, and something God would mourn over. APU certainly wouldn't ban a book by an anti-communist author who attacks Marxism. So why would you ban a club that stands up against socialism? Allen, what are you so afraid of? If YAF "lies" so much, then why not just allow the club to show everyone on campus their foolery? Why are trying so hard to fight for them not coming to campus? Could it be that you are too sensitive to ideas that are different than yours?
      Posted by Giant on 10/15/2012
    • Oh, Giant. You say no one is allowed to regulate speech in America. But in fact, speech is regulated under constitutional law. There are legal and constitutional limits on free speech. So, once you recognize those, then maybe we can talk. Libel and slander, while hard to prove, can be prosecuted. So, that is a limit on speech. Incitement to immediate violence or language that puts people in danger (shouting fire in a theater) are also limited. And Allen would be right to be concerned about an organization that promotes lies -- because that is not protected speech. Ideas that are different are not the same thing as saying that someone accused soldiers of murder in an article where those words never appeared. That is not a differing idea. That is a lie. It is immoral. It is not protected speech. And it is exactly what YAF has been doing to Christian universities for over a week now. Thank God that people are using their God-given right to speak up against the lies from YAF.
      Posted by on 10/15/2012
    • My name is Christine and I have attended APU for three years now. I am glad APU banned YAF from being a club sponsored on our campus. It was not as though YAF was just being added as one more club on campus. YCC club would have been changed into YAF, leaving many middle road conservative students to have to choose whether to be aligned with an extremist conservative club on campus. Why do I call this YAF extremist conservatives? Because their website uses terms such as "Islamo-fascists, race-baiters, and fringe environmentalists." The issue of APU not approving this change in name on campus should be put into context. Our school does not allow extreme liberal clubs on campus either. Not only that, we are not allowed to have a official LGBTQ club on campus. APU is not really a liberal university but its not really conservative. APU desires to be middle ground in the arena of politics and hires professors for their faith rather than their political views. APU is currently having problems within their community due to hard political issues tearing many students apart and leading to childish name calling. APU isn't interested in students fighting with one another through clubs. YAF would certainly encourage petty fighting rather then true discussion among friends. I thought it was interesting that the president of YCC remained anonymous when interviewed by our school paper but published her name openly to Fox News. I also think it is interesting that she felt the need to publish Chuck Strands name online. This article by Ashley is nothing more than a petty slap at APU for not giving her what she wanted on campus.
      Posted by Christine Fannin on 10/17/2012
    • Yeah, here's the article where Ashley Blackwell, who went to Fox News to publicly call APU a bunch of hypocrites, decides that now she would like some anonymity. http://www.theclause.org/2012/10/apu-says-no-to-ycc-name-change/ Stay classy, Ashley. BTW, YAF is not interested in you or your well-being. They are using you for their own purposes. APU saw that from a mile away. They are doing you a favor.
      Posted by on 10/18/2012
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