A New York university unconstitutionally banned a student group from its campus this week over conservative views, according to a new lawsuit.
Three students part of the University of Buffalo chapter of Young Americans for Freedom filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against university officials and the Student Association after being derecognized and barred from receiving the same benefits as other student groups.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys accuse the university of violating the conservative student’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to speech and assembly.
The Student Association revised its policies two weeks after UB Young Americans for Freedom hosted a conservative speaker Michael Knowles on the campus, prohibiting student groups from being affiliated with national organizations.
The Student Association’s president allegedly sought legal counsel and told the Student Association Senate, “We all know why we’re doing this,” referring to YAF and its views, according to the lawsuit.
The YAF chapter which had over 100 members and has been meeting weekly since it was formed in 2017 was officially derecognized Thursday for being affiliated with Young America’s Foundation.
“Associating with like-minded peers on campus to discuss relevant issues is fundamental to the rights of free speech and exercise that the First Amendment protects,” said ADF Senior Counsel Caleb Dalton.
“Public universities can’t punish students because of their political or religious viewpoints or affiliation with a national organization,” Dalton added.
ADF added the following:
Now that university officials have derecognized the club, Young Americans for Freedom is no longer eligible to receive the budget it was allocated from the Mandatory Student Activity Fee, nor can it operate as a student organization or receive the benefits that come with that recognition, including reserving space on campus for meetings or events, setting up tables with information in the Student Union, or participating in fundraising or membership recruitment. The lawsuit explains that, despite the new policy, other student organizations with similar purposes are still allowed to be chapters of outside organizations and receive official recognition.
The UB chapter’s purpose was to help students learn about U.S. history, the U.S. Constitution, individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and other topics. Young Americans for Freedom fulfills its mission by engaging in expressive activities on campus, including posting flyers and signs, hosting tables with information, inviting speakers to campus, and talking with fellow students.
A student reacted to Knowles coming to speech by taking down flyers and telling a conservative student, “F– you.”