Students Sue University Officials For Kicking Conservative Chapter Off Campus

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Kate Anderson Contributor
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A Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter and several students at the University at Buffalo (UB) filed a lawsuit against the school’s Student Association for allegedly kicking their chapter off campus after prohibiting student groups from taking part in national organizations.

In March, the Student Association changed its policy to prohibit student chapters from being part of national organizations in order to be officially recognized on campus, with the only exceptions being “Academic, Engineering, or Sports Councils, and clubs whose sole purpose is to engage in inter-collegiate competition,” according to the lawsuit filed by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). The Student Association voted 5 to 1 with seven members absent to approve the new rule and YAF’s chapter on campus was no longer recognized due to its relationship with the parent organization, Young Americans for Freedom. (RELATED: ‘Cancel Culture’: University Prez Writes Blistering Letter Slamming Students For Shouting Down Commencement Speaker)

ADF argues that the policy violates the YAF students’ First and 14th Amendment rights, according to the lawsuit.

“It has been well-established since at least 1972 that affiliation with a national organization is ‘an impermissible basis upon which to deny First Amendment rights’ of association to student organizations at public universities,” the lawsuit reads. “But today, University at Buffalo Staff and the UB Student Association acting under authority from the University have done just that: Defendants have derecognized and barred Young Americans for Freedom from benefits on campus because they are a chapter of a national organization—Young America’s Foundation… Defendants’ national-affiliation ban violates Young Americans for Freedom and its members’ rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”

The decision came shortly after YAF hosted conservative commentator and Daily Wire personality Michael Knowles, according to the lawsuit. The event sparked protests over claims that Knowles wanted to “eradicate” transgender people and resulted in one protester, who was not a student, getting arrested by campus police for “disorderly conduct.”

In the lawsuit, the students alleged that the student association changed the policy because of the Knowles event, and cited a statement from Student Association President Becky Paul-Odionhin about the new policy, saying, “We all know why we’re doing this.”

Due to the chapter’s relationship with YAF, it is no longer able to use university spaces or buildings for events or meetings, fundraise on campus, or access funding from the “Mandatory Student Activity Fee,” according to the lawsuit. As a result, ADF asked the court to rule that the policy is a violation of their right to free speech and assembly.

“This is a gross violation of the First Amendment, and we are hopeful the court will recognize that,” Caleb Dalton, ADF senior council. “The university made it clear that it was going to retract recognition from some student groups affiliated with national organizations, including Young Americans for Freedom. Public universities can’t discriminate against particular groups, but that’s exactly what SUNY Buffalo did.”

A university spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the school would not be commenting on pending litigation.

YAF and the SA did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment

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