Education

UVA Reverses ‘Illegal’ Decision, Recognizes Conservative Group

The University of Virginia decided Wednesday to reverse an “illegal” decision it made by refusing to recognize a conservative student group on campus.

UVA made the decision to recognize the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) group following statements from Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume and former Virginia governor George Allen, in addition to a letter from free speech nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), according to a press release obtained exclusively by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“In the wake of public outcry over the University of Virginia’s unconstitutional and illegal policy which censored conservatives, UVA has made the right choice in complying with the demand letter sent last week,” said Spencer Brown, spokesman for Young America’s Foundation, the conservative group which oversees the chapter and authored the press release. “We look forward to UVA-YAF continuing its bold advancement of conservative ideas.”

The UVA student council declined to recognize UVA-YAF when the group tried to renew its chapter with a new, viewpoint-based provision. Ty Zirkle, UVA student council’s vice president for organizations, had told the then-unrecognized UVA-YAF chapter that the group could not give out membership based on students’ political affiliation. But in a December letter, ADF cited VA Code Ann. 23.1-400, which states otherwise. (RELATED: Is UVA Breaking The Law By Rejecting Conservative Group On Campus?)

“As an alumnus of Mr. Jefferson’s University, I am very pleased to see that UVA has worked quickly to protect the right of all students to associate around their shared beliefs,” said Casey Mattox, director of ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom and a senior counsel for the group. “I look forward with confidence to the administration’s changes that will ensure neither YAF nor any other students face a similar problem in the future.”

The national YAF organization suggested that other groups at UVA reserve membership for those who share certain viewpoints, when speaking with TheDCNF. The group alleged that both a “queer student union” and an atheists and agnostics group at UVA deny membership to students “actively against the goals and purpose”  and those who do not “promote a hostility-free atmosphere,” respectively.

UVA-YAF’s original rejection was temporary, Anthony Paul de Bruyn, spokesman for UVA, previously said to TheDCNF Tuesday evening. De Bruyn said that UVA’s student council had not yet voted on its “final” approval or rejection and that the school had told it to do so.

TheDCNF reached out to UVA for further comment following UVA-YAF’s approval, but received none in time for press.

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