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The New Guard

DIRTY TRICKS: UW YAFers Threaten Lawsuit As UW-Madison Attempts to Prevent Knowles Speech

By

Nick Baker

March 11, 2024

The University of Wisconsin-Madison really doesn’t want Michael Knowles to speak on campus this Wednesday. In an apparent attempt to create an extreme financial burden for the UW-Madison Young Americans for Freedom chapter, the university is requiring that the students pay an unprecedented and unjustifiable $4,000 “security fee.”

Young America’s Foundation is working with the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) and the Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) to challenge the unconstitutional maneuver by issuing a demand letter.

While YAF has previously covered routine expenses such as venue set up and decorating for previous events, security fees have never been implemented, and this sudden change sets a very dangerous precedent.

“Freedom of speech is not negotiable. Charging a conservative group thousands of dollars for a so-called ‘controversial’ speaker is ridiculous, especially since UWMadison routinely hosts—and even pays—controversial leftwing speakers,” remarked Dan Lennington, WILL deputy counsel.

This blatant double standard effectively creates a penalty for conservative ideas due to the Left’s inability to behave when opposing viewpoints come anywhere near their vicinity.

“Despite following policy and playing by the rules, our YAF chapter is treated unfairly by the University of Wisconsin and has faced intimidation, discrimination, and undue burdens that other clubs on campus do not face,” said Harrison Wells, chairman of Young Americans for Freedom at UWMadison. “We want to show students that there is more than the liberal bias they see on campus and UW has a responsibility to ensure our constitutional right to do so.”

Young America’s Foundation and our legal partners have a strong track record of winning these sorts of cases against public institutions, which, whether they like it or not, are bound by the Constitution of the United States. When the University of California, Berkeley, tried to pull a similar stunt, they ended up paying a $70,000 settlement and had to permanently change their discriminatory policy.

With only a few days until the event, UW-Madison has very limited time to correct its actions in order to prevent a legal headache of its own.

 

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