“There is no point in having a student body on campus if competing ideas are not exchanged and analyzed and respected by each other.”
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) uttered this thought-provoking statement during a recent Senate hearing focused on free speech and political bias on college campuses. Conclusions made from this hearing are clear: universities have diversity of gender, ethnicity, and culture. But lack significantly in arguably the most important form of diversity for a center of higher learning — diversity of thought. This deficiency, many argued during the hearing, is stifling the exchange of competing ideas in the classroom — crushing the morale and discourse of more conservative students — and proving detrimental to students’ ability to receive a balanced and complete education. This discrimination could not have been more evident than when it came to the opposition we faced bringing a Young Americans for Freedom chapter to the University of Cincinnati.
In order to become an official organization at UC, one must submit a club constitution with a clear purpose of what the organization stands for and present the organization proposal in front of the Student Activities Board (SAB) for approval. For prospective clubs that are not focused in more conservative views, this is a relatively easy process.
For us, however, the Student Activities Board found issue with the uniqueness of our purpose and the ability of our organization to obtain a membership exclusive to our club. Members of the board forced us to jump through hoops in differentiating ourselves from almost every other right-leaning political organization on campus — whether it was Young Americans for Liberty, College Republicans, or TurningPoint USA, to make sure YAF would be a unique addition to the University.
We submitted our constitution for review and were set to present in front of the Board on March 23, 2017. Hours before the scheduled presentation time, we received an email explaining that we would be unable to present due to our supposed similarities to Young Americans for Liberty. To anyone who takes even the most basic, surface-level look into the two organizations, the differences are obvious. After a subsequent meeting that lasted approximately five minutes, we were assured that we would be on our way to approval if we explained these differences to the Board.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and we were finally in front of the Board. As directed, we clearly differentiated ourselves from the Young Americans for Liberty. During the question and answer portion of our presentation, SAB members sought more of an explanation of our differences between the College Republicans and TurningPoint USA, an organization who would be seeking approval the following week. Being as though the College Republicans are a partisan organization that works to elect Republican candidates across the country and YAF a non-partisan — conservative campus activism organization — we saw the differences to be quite apparent. However, the majority of the Board could not look past the shared “right-wing” label and tabled our organization until their next meeting in the Fall.
Thanks to Kyle Ferrebee and Mark Trammell of the Young America’s Foundation we were reassured that having to prove our individuality as an organization based on viewpoint to a state university was unlawful. They urged us to keep pushing for recognized University status.
This past Thursday, August 31, we were finally approved as an official University of Cincinnati organization. While it did not come as easily as we would have liked the second time around, we were able to convince the Board of the University’s need for such an organization on campus.
Because we have just been recently recognized by the University and are unable to apply for funding for another month, we had to seek funds from the Veterans Programs and Services Department and American Legion Post 318 to support our first initiative: a public 3,000 American flag memorial for the victims of 9/11. Seeing this event as a more than worthy cause, and rightfully so, Veterans Programs and Services generously donated over half of the funding for the flags.
We look forward to being a strong conservative voice on UC’s campus and hope you will join us!
If you want to learn more about UC YAF, our plans for the school year, or want to volunteer for the 9/11 memorial, follow us on Twitter @yaf_uc.