- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Young America’s Foundation, a prominent conservative organization dedicated to passing on the nation’s founding principles to future generations, has filed a lawsuit against the University of Florida.

Students in Gainesville have struggled to bring high-profile conservatives to campus due to a policy that was implemented after an event with author Dinesh D’Souza. YAF spokesman Spencer Brown told Twitter followers on Wednesday that its UF chapter’s fortunes may change due to a federal lawsuit filed last week.

“NEW: @YAF announces federal lawsuit brought by the Young Americans for Freedom chapter at the University of Florida against their school for its attempts to censor conservative viewpoints,” he began a pair of tweets. “This past year, @UF denied the YAF chapter funding to host @DLoesch and @andrewklavan. That denial—and the timing of policy changes that, in function, only impact @UFloridaYAF—speaks loudly to UF’s true intention to prevent conservative ideas being heard on campus.”

A statement put out by the organization on its 1st and 14th Amendments explains the situation as follows:

“Without applying any objective criteria, the University of Florida subjectively designates student organizations into one of two categories — budgeted and non-budgeted. Unsurprisingly, the University placed UF YAF in the non-budgeted category despite the chapter’s efforts to obtain budgeted status. Budgeted student organizations receive annual funding from student activity fees automatically. Non-budgeted student groups — those not favored by UF — have to petition the school for funding for each event, and the disparate treatment doesn’t stop there.

UF’s new policy also disqualifies non-budgeted student organizations from obtaining student activity fee funding if it goes toward a guest speaker’s honoraria. By contrast, budgeted student organizations can use student activity fee funding to pay a speakers’ honoraria.

Over the last two years, UF YAF is the only non-budgeted student organization to request student activity funding to pay for a guest speaker’s honoraria.”

“The university forces YAF to play an arbitrary, complex game of Chutes and Ladders in the funding process, wherein the student group can continually be sent back to the beginning of the game at the sole discretion of the student government,” Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Blake Meadows added on YAF’s website.

UF Communications spokeswoman Margot Winick rejected those assertions when contacted by The Washington Times.

“The University of Florida is committed to upholding the First Amendment right to free speech and promoting a campus community that is open to all points of view,” she said via email Wednesday.

She added that a more extensive response would be issued when the school reopens after the holiday break on January 2. 

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