This week the Roger Williams University (RWU) student senate formally denied RWU’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter official school recognition, citing inaccurate claims the group bears “close resemblance” to another campus club.
This means students will not be able to hold meetings, reserve spaces, host events or distribute materials on the private campus.
While the senate noted that their official reason was because they believed YAF was too similar to the College Republicans, sources from within the senate note otherwise.
This is not an uncommon roadblock for YAF chapters. Given the significant differences between both groups, however, it is a ridiculous one. In almost every circumstance, campus bureaucrats use it as an excuse to hinder conservative activism.
It appears that is the case at Roger Williams this fall as well.
“This year, [chapter chair] Will Nardi has led protests gaining national attention, and the President is outraged,” said one student senator anonymously, referring to protests of over 450 students against a proposed gym dress code.
“The tension in the room was palpable,” said freshman Kalasia Richer of the committee’s meeting to discuss YAF, who was starting the club with Nardi. “I’ve never seen people act so disrespectfully—especially to students who wanted to do something good for the college.”
Richer also notes that even though she went before the clubs and orgs committee to ask for the club to be approved, she was sent a bizarre email asking her to confirm her membership in the club. Nardi, nor the other two executive board members received such an email.
“I’m almost sure its because I’m a black woman,” said Richer. “The school has been pushing me into liberal clubs since I got here and they don’t want me to be involved with anything that could give conservatives credibility with the African American community.”
“They blocked the club, claiming that YAF, a conservative ideology club, was too similar to the College Republicans, a political party,” said Nardi. “Even though we presented them information showing that because of the different tax statuses that it would be illegal to perform the campaigning functions of the College Republicans, we were still denied.”
Sources from within the senate confirm that the real reason, which was openly discussed, was retribution against Nardi for exposing the practices of the student group.
“I have news for all student senators that think they are above scrutiny. You are a representative of the students. What you say in public is not private, no matter how much you want to keep what you say in those meetings a secret,” said Nardi.
Sources also note that the head of the Clubs and Organizations committee, Jake Brostuen, told the entire student senate that he prepared a statement for the club ahead of time in case they decided to vote no in the next meeting, where the fate of the club would have been decided.
In closing, the committee noted that the students could appeal the decision at the full student senate meeting next Monday, or ask for a department of the school to sponsor their group to be recognized.
Young America’s Foundation reached out to the RWU Clubs and Organizations committee for comment, but received no response by the time of publication.