A pro-liberty organization for college students called Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) ended its federal lawsuit with the University of California, Berkeley, after finally receiving recognition as an on-campus club.
The December 2017 lawsuit prompted Cal Berkeley to change its Registered Student Organization policy to prevent club discrimination based “on their statements of purpose or uniqueness, mission statements, or other viewpoints expressed in their applications,” according to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
The school has also agreed to pay the libertarian chapter and its counsel $8,500, according to the July 2 settlement.
The case began when the President of YAL went to submit a statement of interest to the Berkeley LEAD Center, which oversees all clubs on its campus. Sending a statement of interest starts the process of becoming an official club.
The LEAD Center, however, denied the September 26, 2017, request the following day in an email to YAL saying the club “does not meet the qualifications for creating a new organization” because it is “too similar to Cal Libertarians,” according to the lawsuit.
Many instances of liberal clubs having comparable beliefs existed on campus prior to the incident. For example, Cal Berkeley for Democrats and Students for Hilary at Berkeley acted as official clubs on campus.
“Public universities are supposed to be a ‘marketplace of ideas’ for students, but that can’t happen when administrators are allowed to pick and choose which student organizations will be recognized based on the students’ views,” said Caleb Dalton, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom.
Without recognition by the school as a club, YAL couldn’t reserve space on campus, invite speakers or funds dedicated to recognized student organizations. The pro-liberty club had planned on educating students on libertarian values by bringing speakers during the Spring Semester and holding meetings.
YAL will be able to teach students its messages of liberty at Berkeley next year as an official club.
“Today’s university students will be tomorrow’s voters and civic leaders,” said Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “That’s why it’s so important that public colleges and universities exemplify the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students.”