The Young Americans for Freedom Board of Governors is excited to announce the following chapters as Chapters of Distinction for their shared dedication to advancing conservatism on each of their campuses throughout the fall semester:
Located in Washington, D.C., The Catholic University of America YAF chapter (CUA YAF) continues to build upon the foundation that earned their group this honor last year. One of the chapter’s highlights of the semester was hosting the first stop on Matt Walsh’s “What is a Woman?” campus tour to a standing-room-only crowd. The very next month, CUA YAF hosted Vice President Mike Pence, who also spoke to a packed auditorium.
The chapter also hosted Daniel Di Martino, a Venezuelan immigrant, and economist, to tell his story and encourage students to stand up against socialism. CUA YAF also held discussion forums on the issues, such as the rise of China and the immigration/border crisis. CUA YAF has initiated discussions on topics that divide our country and exposed students to conservative solutions to our country’s problems through these events. Additionally, CUA YAF participated in a vigil in Washington D.C. for the victims of a building fire in China, who were unable to escape the building due to China’s authoritarian zero-Covid policies.
“The dedication of our members since we gained school recognition in February 2020 has led to our rapid growth and hosting some of the biggest events in the history of the university,” says CUA YAF chair Gabrielle Dankanich.
In the spring of 2022, Gettysburg College YAF (GC YAF) sought funding from the College’s Student Senate to bring Dr. Ryan T. Anderson on campus to speak about transgenderism. The Student Senate, claiming the event would make students unsafe, denied funding for the event. Flash forward to fall 2022, when the chapter brought Dr. Anderson through YAF’s campus lecture program, Gettysburg College labeled the event as “controversial” and promoted seven different counter-protest events on campus.
Rather than being discouraged, the school’s animosity energized GC YAF. Members, including those new to the chapter, tabled on campus, hung posters, and engaged with students before the event. In the end, Dr. Anderson spoke to a capacity crowd, which would not have happened if the campus Left had their way. Thankfully, GC YAF stood firm for what they believed and made an impact on campus.
Texas A&M YAF (TAMU YAF) continues to be one of the top YAF chapters in the country. On November 1, 2022, TAMU YAF hosted Ben Shapiro in a sold-out room of 2,500. In promoting the event, TAMU YAF tabled on campus for 10 hours a week and ramped up to 20 hours the week leading up to the event. In response to a campus newspaper opinion piece arguing that campus groups shouldn’t be bringing in speakers that “spread misinformation,” chapter chair Rachel Sweeney said that “Shapiro’s 2,500 attendees versus Beto [O’Rourke] ‘s 700 tells us everything we need to know about who Texas A&M actually wants to hear from.”
Despite attending a seemingly more conservative campus, TAMU YAF has called out the school administration for promoting leftist events. The school allowed a student organization to promote abortion access, featuring information that would put students at risk of breaking Texas State law. TAMU YAF has a long track record of being steadfast advocates for conservatism. This is just another chapter in their storied history.
The University of Illinois Chicago YAF chapter (UIC YAF) made national headlines when a UIC administrator tried to shut down their table for YAF’s No More Che Day, claiming that the table, located on a public sidewalk, was indoors and, therefore, private property. Before this, the chapter had initiated insightful discussions on the reality of Che Guevara and his radical, socialist views.
In the face of possible disciplinary action from the school, UIC YAFers held firm in their right to table. Attending a university in one of the most leftist cities in the country isn’t easy. However, UIC YAF is providing a much-needed voice for conservative values and principles to students who otherwise may never have been exposed to them. In the weeks following the school’s brazen attempts to shut down UIC YAF’s tabling, the chapter has seen an influx in members and has no plans of slowing down their fight for freedom. This spring, UIC YAF will be hosting Elisha Krauss to speak.
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign YAF (UIUC YAF) chapter earned their first Chapter of Distinction recognition through their work to host Matt Walsh this fall despite resistance from campus leftists. Before the event, UIUC’s vice chancellor for diversity, equity, and inclusion approached the chapter about multiple reports of intolerance that upset students had levied against them. The chapter’s social media pages were also flooded with negative comments.
Despite these efforts to hinder the event, Walsh spoke to a standing-room-only crowd on his “What is a Woman” Tour stop at UIUC thanks to the efforts of UIUC YAF. Following the event, members of UIUC YAF attempted to engage with the protestors in civil discussion, to which the Left responded by continuing to yell at the chapter members.
UIUC YAF also worked with YAF’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise to bring Steve Forbes to their campus in the fall of 2022.
As one of the newest YAF chapters on this list, UIUC YAF achieved much through the members’ hard work and willingness to enter the fray, not skirting back from campus pressure. As a result, the chapter has established themselves on campus and attracted new members. UIUC YAF Chair Bailey Parks-Moore stated they “heard from countless students who didn’t know that conservative students existed on campus and students that struggled in classes because of their liberal professors.” The steps taken by UIUC YAF this past semester are sure to ensure that students at UIUC will be exposed to conservative ideas for years to come.
University of Michigan YAF (UM YAF) was a stand-out chapter for their stellar activism and for hosting Ben Shapiro in fall 2022. From tabling on issues such as national defense, free speech, and the second amendment to celebrating Freedom Week and hosting weekly meetings with discussions on relevant issues, UM YAF brings a conservative voice to a campus that desperately needs it.
Before the event, the student newspaper ran an Op-Ed by a leftist student group claiming that student safety would be at risk if Shapiro, whom they claimed was a Nazi, were he allowed to speak on campus. Despite this pressure, the chapter prevailed and rebutted the arguments made by leftists.
When asked what other YAF chapters can do to succeed, UM YAF chair Charles Hilu said, “The most important thing a chairman should learn is to delegate… We can not do everything or be everywhere at once, so we need to trust our board and chapter members.”
University of Wisconsin – Madison YAF (UW YAF) stood firm amidst attacks from the campus Left to bring Matt Walsh’s What is a Woman tour to their campus. After learning that UW’s flagship hospital has been conducting gender transition surgeries on minors for years, UW YAF knew they needed to fight back and chose to host Matt Walsh.
In the weeks leading up to the event, a TA in the Gender Studies department tore down event flyers, and multiple campus and local newspapers published articles about the event. Leftist students filed “bias reports” against members of the chapter for “targeting” the Gender and Women’s Studies department’s hallway with flyers. On the day of the event, leftist protestors vandalized the Memorial Union, writing phrases such as “Trans Women are Women” and “F*** Matt Walsh.” Closer to the event, a group of around 75 protestors tried to block the entrance to the building.
Despite these efforts from students, the administration, and the community, UW YAF prevailed. More than 700 people came to the event, despite only having seats for 400. The following day, UW YAF Chair Harrison Wells was interviewed on Fox and Friends.
For their tremendous efforts to overcome bureaucratic obstacles, combat cultures of apathy and anti-American zeal, and inspire their classmates with conservative ideas, we congratulate these seven chapters on receiving the title of Chapter of Distinction.