Last week, the Young Americans for Freedom chapter at the University of Florida (UF YAF) filed a federal lawsuit against their school after officials violated students’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Shortly after UF YAF chapter hosted New York Times bestselling author Dinesh D’Souza for a lecture sponsored by Young America’s Foundation, the University of Florida introduced a new policy designed to keep conservative guest speakers off campus.
Without applying any objective criteria, the University of Florida subjectively designates student organizations into one of two categories—budgeted and non-budgeted. Unsurprisingly, the University placed UF YAF in the non-budgeted category despite the chapter’s efforts to obtain budgeted status. Budgeted student organizations receive annual funding from student activity fees automatically. Non-budgeted student groups—those not favored by UF—have to petition the school for funding for each event, and the disparate treatment doesn’t stop there.
UF’s new policy also disqualifies non-budgeted student organizations from obtaining student activity fee funding if it goes toward a guest speaker’s honoraria. By contrast, budgeted student organizations can use student activity fee funding to pay a speakers’ honoraria.
Over the last two years, UF YAF is the only non-budgeted student organization to request student activity funding to pay for a guest speakers’ honoraria.
“UF officials are actively trying to stifle the University of Florida Young Americans for Freedom chapter on the basis of the students’ conservative beliefs,” said Young America’s Foundation Spokesman Spencer Brown. “This past year, the University of Florida denied UF YAF funding to host Dana Loesch and Andrew Klavan. That denial—and the timing of policy changes that, in function, only impact UF YAF—speaks loudly to the University of Florida’s true intention to prevent conservative ideas being heard on campus. The First Amendment guarantees all students the right to free expression, yet the University of Florida seems to think that it has the power to arbitrarily deprive students of their free speech rights,” added Brown. “This viewpoint censorship has to stop.”
“University of Florida administrators are limiting YAF members’ First Amendment freedoms by forcing them to pay into a system that funds opposing viewpoints. Worse yet, the university forces YAF to play an arbitrary, complex game of Chutes and Ladders in the funding process, wherein the student group can continually be sent back to the beginning of the game at the sole discretion of the student government. The university also changed its rules to single out and disqualify the conservative group from receiving funding for speakers fees and honoraria—making it even more difficult for the group to express its viewpoint on campus,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Blake Meadows.
For additional information or to request an interview contact Young America’s Foundation Spokesman Spencer Brown via firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-872-1776.