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Young America’s Foundation (YAF) and attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) put the University of Virginia (UVA) on notice today for its blatant violation of both the United States Constitution and state law in preventing a Young Americans for Freedom chapter from forming on the UVA grounds.

This semester, a group of conservative-minded students attempted to form a YAF chapter at UVA only to be denied by administrators. University administrators cited YAF’s Sharon Statement as the problem.

Drafted at the home of William F. Buckley, the Sharon Statement has been called a “seminal document” of the Conservative Movement by the New York Times, and is widely regarded as one of the most important declarations of modern conservatism.

UVA has refused to officially recognize the YAF chapter because of the chapter’s reasonable, common-sense requirement that chapter members and leaders affirm the Sharon Statement. Administrators bizarrely labeled YAF a “political” group and then discriminated against YAF for requiring members and officers to affirm these basic conservative beliefs. Virginia law expressly prohibits universities from discriminating against a religious or political student group because they limit membership to those who hold the group’s religious or political views.

“Our students’ speech and association rights are being violated by administrators at the University of Virginia. Our demand is simple – recognize the YAF chapter and change this illegal policy.” said YAF Spokesman Spencer Brown. “Thomas Jefferson founded UVA; he also authored the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. The irony is not lost that it is UVA that is violating its students’ rights.”

In a letter to UVA administrators, ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox demanded that the school grant the YAF chapter the recognition it seeks by December 20 and amend its policy to reflect state law.

“Public universities cannot strip student groups of what makes them unique, and they certainly can’t single out YAF as UVA has done,” said Casey Mattox, Senior Counsel and director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “As an alumnus of the University of Virginia, I hope that UVA will quickly remedy this blatant violation of state law and the First Amendment and welcome YAF onto the Grounds.”


For further information or to cover this story contact Spencer Brown via phone (800-872-1776) or email (sbrown@yaf.org).

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