Is UVA Breaking The Law By Rejecting Conservative Group On Campus?

Rob Shimshock | Education Reporter

The University of Virginia is breaking the law by prohibiting a conservative group from opening a chapter on its campus, the group alleged Friday.

Conservative nonprofit Young America’s Foundation and legal nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom say that the school is breaking Virginia law by prohibiting Young Americans for Freedom, which requires its members to hold certain political views, from existing.

“Our students’ speech and association rights are being violated by administrators at the University of Virginia. Our demand is simple – recognize the YAF chapter and change this illegal policy,” said Spencer Brown, spokesman for YAF. “Thomas Jefferson founded UVA; he also authored the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. The irony is not lost that it is UVA that is violating its students’ rights.”

Ty Zirkle, UVA student council’s vice president for organizations, told YAF-UVA that the group cannot hand out group membership based on political affiliation.

But ADF cited VA Code Ann. 23.1-400, which states that political and religious student groups can pick leaders and members, as well as policies, according to its political or religious goal and can decide “that only persons committed to that mission should conduct such activities.”

“Public universities cannot strip student groups of what makes them unique, and they certainly can’t single out YAF as UVA has done,” said Casey Mattox, who serves as director of the Center for Academic Freedom and a senior counsel at ADF. “As an alumnus of the University of Virginia, I hope that UVA will quickly remedy this blatant violation of state law and the First Amendment and welcome YAF onto the Grounds.”

The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to UVA for comment, but received none in time for press.

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