UW students petition to shut down YAF, punish leaders

Students at the University of Wisconsin, Madison are demanding that their school’s administration put members of a conservative club “through intensive diversity training.”

An online petition being circulated by the school’s “Student Coalition for Progress” condemns the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter on campus for hosting Ben Shapiro, whom they claim has “used his following and nationally syndicated media presence to deny the realities of systematic and institutional violence against Black and Brown people, sexual assault survivors, Muslims, LGBTQIA+ people, people with low income[s], people with differing abilities, undocumented immigrants, and anyone that [sic] is systematically targeted along identity lines.”

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The petition goes on to blame YAF for “making campus a hostile environment by attempting to out and misgender LGBTQIA+ students,” claiming that some members have even “individually confronted” and thus “made feel unsafe prominent members of student government.”

Accordingly, the petition demands that YAF’s charter be “revoked,” as well as asking for subsequent punishments for each of the “involved students” who could potentially be forced to undergo “intensive diversity training.”

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To strengthen its case against YAF, the petition offers the account of one minority student who attended Shapiro’s apparently controversial lecture.

“I just watched Shapiro’s lecture, and as an international minority student, seeing familiar faces of classmates in the cheering crowd, I felt betrayed, unwelcome, and regretting my choice of university and ever coming to the U.S.,” the anonymous student recalled in horror.

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While the petition acknowledges that YAF has generally “not been a threat to the greater campus community” in the past, when the group merely “brought in speakers that [sic] espoused unsavory viewpoints and promoted conservatism,” that apparently all “changed during the Fall 2016 semester” with Shapiro’s appearance.

The petition, which has a target of just 100 signatures, still needed another 28 supporters at press time to trigger delivery to the UW administration.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski