Kennesaw State University (KSU) has agreed to rescind viewpoint discriminatory policies that it used to unlawfully discriminate against conservative students—denying them equal access to campus resources and punishing them for their speech by levying hefty “security fees.”
The decision comes after the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter at Kennesaw State University, under the leadership of chapter chair Zack Bohannon and with legal representation from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), filed a First Amendment lawsuit against KSU challenging the school’s discriminatory policies and practice.
Prior to filing suit, it was KSU’s policy for school administrators to classify student organizations in a hierarchical four-tiered system. Student organizations assigned to higher tiers were afforded greater access to school resources, including greater access to the student activity fees that all students pay and are intended to benefit the student body as a whole. No conservative student group was rated higher than the bottom tier.
School policies also gave school administrators unbridled discretion to impose their own bias by levying security fees on student events expressing a different viewpoint. When the KSU YAF chapter hosted New York Times bestselling author Katie Pavlich for a campus lecture last spring, administrators imposed a $320 security fee on the event because they subjectively determined that Ms. Pavlich was too “controversial.”
But this settlement changes things dramatically for students at KSU. Finally, students’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights will be respected on campus. KSU’s bizarre four-tiered system for classifying student organizations has been eliminated. Now, all student organizations will be afforded equal access to university resources. And now, school administrators no longer possess unbridled discretion to impose greater fees on speakers they disagree with or subjectively deem “controversial.” Moving forward, all fees are determined by objective standards that respect students’ speech rights.
“Thanks to Young America’s Foundation, ADF, and the bold YAF activists who refused to back down, discriminating against student organizations on the basis of their beliefs will no longer be allowed at Kennesaw State University,” said Young America’s Foundation Spokesman Spencer Brown. “It is outrageous that in 2018 students still have to sue their schools to be afforded First Amendment rights on campus—The law has been settled on this issue for decades. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of university administrators in dire need of a remedial lesson in constitutional law.”
“You don’t have to know much to see why Kennesaw State’s policies regulating speech in this way were not at all constitutional,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “Not only is it important that YAF and all students at KSU be able to exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms, but it’s also vital for the university to live by example in demonstrating the importance of those freedoms instead of communicating to an entire generation that the Constitution doesn’t matter.”
“Young America’s Foundation is immensely proud of its Young Americans for Freedom chapter at Kennesaw State University,” added Brown. “This is what our work is all about—inspiring young people to stand up for their conservative beliefs. Today, freedom won.”
Young Americans for Freedom is the chapter affiliate of Young America’s Foundation at high schools and colleges nationwide serving as the visible presence of the Conservative Movement since being founded by William F. Buckley in 1960.
For further information or to request an interview contact YAF Spokesman Spencer Brown via firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-872-1776.