Under pressure, UVA agrees to recognize conservative group

  • After initially being rejected by the student government for requiring its members to endorse its founding principles, a new Young Americans for Freedom chapter will be allowed to form at the University of Virginia.
  • Attorneys for the Alliance Defending Freedom put UVA "on notice" that the rejection violated the First Amendment, prompting school administrators to pressure student government to rectify its decision.

The University of Virginia (UVA) has agreed to recognize a Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter on campus after the group accused the school of illegally rejecting the organization.

According to a YAF press release, the university is set to recognize the chapter next month while also agreeing to reexamine its policy in order to comply with state law and the U.S. Constitution.

"The original denial of recognition for YAF was an illegal and unconstitutional application of UVa policy."   

[RELATED: Conservatives accuse UVA of illegally rejecting YAF chapter]

“Following multiple media reports and concerned statements by 67th Governor of Virginia George Allen...counsel for UVA informed YAF that the Young Americans for Freedom chapter would be recognized and would be reevaluating its policy to ensure compliance with state law and the First Amendment,” the group announced on its website.

Last week, YAF and attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) put the school “on notice” for rejecting the chapter’s application to become an officially recognized student club at the university.

The group argued that the decision had to do with YAF’s Sharon Statement, a “timeless declaration of conservative principles” that is central to the organization’s mission, and thus violated the First Amendment.

[RELATED: ‘Victims of Socialism’ event triggers Bernie-loving students]

A UVA spokesperson previously told Campus Reform that the Student Council “had requested two changes to the constitution submitted by YAF” in November, adding that the application was “temporarily denied” after YAF did not produce a response.

“The decision by Student Council was not viewpoint based, but rather based upon an error in applying the non-discrimination policy,” the spokesperson explained. “The CIO [Contracted Independent Organization] application from YAF was never voted on by the Student Council representative body for final approval or denial. The University has now requested that Student Council take steps to remedy this as soon as possible.”

In a statement addressing UVA’s decision to recognize the student group, ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox said that public university officials “should respect the constitutionally protected freedom of all students to associate with one another based on their shared interests and beliefs.”

[RELATED: Conservative student attacked for wearing YAF hat to vigil]

“We commend UVa officials for taking prompt action to respect that for Young Americans for Freedom,” Mattox continued. “The original denial of recognition for YAF was an illegal and unconstitutional application of UVa policy that prohibited the club from asking its official members and leaders to affirm its basic conservative principles.”

According to Mattox, the YAF chapter is slated to obtain its new status at the beginning of the Spring semester.

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Nikita Vladimirov
Nikita Vladimirov | Correspondents Editor

Nikita Vladimirov is a Correspondents Editor for Campus Reform. Prior to joining Campus Reform, he wrote for The Hill, where he extensively covered the latest political developments in U.S. and around the world. A 2016 national finalist for the Society of Professional Journalists' "Mark of Excellence Award," Nikita now resides in Washington D.C. and contributes to the Washington Examiner. His work has appeared on the front pages of The Drudge Report and The Hill, and has been featured by leading media organizations including Fox News, MSN, Real Clear Defense and many others.

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