In a victory for free speech, the University of Cincinnati has announced that they will be taking steps necessary to ensure that, in the future, student organizations are not charged exaggerated security fees.

This comes after only the most recent of run-ins with the University of Cincinnati administration when our chapter was slapped with a $2,000 security fee which included the presence of seven police officers and an event coordinator. This charge surfaced after being informed that Stark Parker, a strong conservative voice, would visit campus.

Seeing action taken by the University of Cincinnati to rectify their mistakes and fortify a commitment to free speech has been incredible, making almost every roadblock encountered thus far worth the trouble.

Some say you never truly understand certain things until you experience them for yourself. The extent to which liberal bias infiltrates higher education is one of those things.

Growing up in a conservative suburb of Cincinnati, I never imagined that a university—a place where one goes to be exposed to diverse thought and to challenge themselves—would be so overtly biased toward one viewpoint. Witnessing this bias first-hand during my first semester, I decided to give conservative students a much-needed voice. With the help of like-minded friends, I started a YAF chapter on campus.

An already difficult process, the University did not make starting a new club any easier. In order to be approved, we were required to differentiate YAF and our conservative views from every other similar group on campus. Reassured by Young America’s Foundation that this discriminatory setback based on viewpoint was unconstitutional, we kept pushing for recognized status. Several meetings, two presentations, and six months later, the University finally approved us as a club.

Since our approval in Fall 2017, we have participated in the 9/11: Never Forget Project, held several productive meetings, and invited our first speaker to campus—Star Parker.

Just when I thought we had finally evaded the university’s liberal bias, it resurfaced when the administration claimed that the size of the event warranted a level of security worth $2,000. Their claim that the size of the event, of which is expected to draw roughly 100 people, warranted this level of security was absolutely unfounded, unless, of course, Star’s “controversial” speech was taken into account.

Young America’s Foundation, again, came to our aid, offering legal guidance if we thought it necessary. After both our faculty advisor and I wrote strongly-worded letters of appeal to the administration, the University decided to cover the security cost and announced the change in speaker security policies.

My first year as chairman of UC YAF has undoubtedly helped me grow. Dealing with unrelenting adversity has strengthened me both mentally and as a leader. My cooperation with the University through each setback has taught me that it’s entirely possible to respect authority while still advocating for and upholding what you know is right.

Young America’s Foundation has given me the confidence to spread the conservative message on campus and help my university embrace change. Their steadfast commitment to conservative ideals and undying support of student activists should make them a desired presence on every campus.

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Regina Barton is the chairman of the University of Cincinnati Young Americans for Freedom.

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