Administrators at Penn State University Harrisburg claim to have the exclusive right to deny a proposed campus lecture featuring Daily Wire commentator Michael Knowles if they determine – for any reason – that the YAF-sponsored event could be “considered potentially harmful” to the school’s public image.

“Any event considered potentially harmful to the public image of Penn State Harrisburg will be rejected,” a requirement listed in the reservation guide for the on-campus theater states.

This supposed policy is blatantly unconstitutional, though a very fitting example of the Left’s authoritarian behavior that Knowles would have addressed with the subject of his lecture, “Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds.”

To make matters worse, administrators tasked the Young Americans for Freedom chapter with a series of mutually conflicting demands.

Connor Vogelsong, chairman of the YAF chapter at PSU-Harrisburg, initiated the process to reserve the Kulkarni Theatre months ago, in full compliance with the university’s 3-6 months advance notice recommendation.

Vogelsong emailed Teri Guerrisi, the venue’s manager, on October 1 to inquire about upcoming availability for the proposed speech. Guerrisi responded to Vogelsong’s request claiming that he would need to secure event approval from the assistant director of student engagement, Michaelle Weber-Colón, before moving forward with the reservation process.

In order to receive Weber-Colón’s blessing, the YAF chapter’s leaders were told that they would first need to secure funding from the student government.

The student government rejected the YAF chapter’s funding request, claiming that they would need to present an official booking confirmation for the Kulkarni Theatre in order to have the event funded. 

Additionally, the student government raised concerns that Knowles might “discriminate against the transgender community.” They demanded an outline of Knowles’ “talking points” and his biography. Even after the chapter provided a copy of Knowles’ official biography, the student government deemed it “insufficient.”

In recent months, the student engagement office and student government have hosted many leftist events, including “Drag Bingo,” an LGBTQ+ panel hosted by “Mx.” Jacob Kelly, a “queer inclusive sex educator,” and a lecture by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, a far-left television and radio program.

 

Did these events also face such extraordinarily difficult approval processes?

Young America’s Foundation’s legal team sent a certified letter to the Penn State Office of General Counsel requesting that the administrators and student government officers be informed of their constitutional obligation to refrain from engaging in viewpoint discrimination. The letter was signed for by an office assistant, but YAF never received a response.

“I’m deeply disturbed, but not surprised, by the actions of Penn State administrators and student government officers. They have shown a proven bias against conservative students and ideas, but more importantly, they have violated our constitutional rights. They can and will be held accountable,” Vogelsong told the New Guard.

Young America’s Foundation will continue working with the chapter to overcome these roadblocks so that they can host a successful event.