YAF wins another key First Amendment case in defense of students’ rights.
Conservative students at the University of Florida will no longer be discriminated against on the basis of their conservative beliefs by their university. Yesterday, the University of Florida agreed to a settlement in the case of Young Americans for Freedom v. University of Florida.
As part of the settlement, the University of Florida has agreed to pay $66,000 in damages to the University of Florida Young Americans for Freedom chapter. In addition, UF will change a school policy that unconstitutionally discriminated against conservative students—denying them equal access to university resources. On December 21, 2018, with legal representation provided by Alliance Defending Freedom, the Young Americans for Freedom chapter at the University of Florida—along with student leaders Sarah Long and Danny Weldon—filed suit against the University of Florida in federal court.
Prior to filing suit, school policy required all students to pay a mandatory Activity and Service fee. But school policy disparately impacted the UF YAF chapter by denying conservative students equal access to funding for conservative speakers, while leftist student groups were automatically funded and could use that funding to bring leftist speakers on campus.
“UF’s old policy stifled student expression and censored conservative ideas on campus,” said Young America’s Foundation Spokesman Spencer Brown. “The old policy unfairly taxed conservative students to underwrite the expression of leftist speakers on campus. Young America’s Foundation commends the UF YAF chapter, Sarah Long, and Danny Weldon for fearlessly fighting for First and Fourteenth Amendment rights on campus,” added Brown. “YAF is immensely proud of its students, nationwide, who continue to fearlessly advocate for liberty on campus.”
As a result of yesterday’s settlement, all student groups will now have equal access to Activity and Service Fee funding regardless of their viewpoint or set of beliefs. The university’s new policy requires the student government to approve funding requests by student organizations when a set of viewpoint-neutral criteria are met.
“This settlement is a great victory for all students at the University of Florida,” said former UF YAF chairman Sarah Long. “The University of Florida should be a marketplace of ideas where students can decide for themselves which ideas have merit. Moving forward, our chapter is excited to host leading conservative speakers on campus.”
“Thankfully, in response to this lawsuit, the University of Florida recognized the errors embedded within its policies by adopting changes that no longer force YAF members to pay into a system that funds opposing viewpoints and discriminates against their own. While no student should have to file a federal lawsuit to vindicate her rights, we’re grateful that the university quickly suspended its discriminatory policy this past spring and worked closely with us to meet our clients’ goals and respect their freedoms protected by the First Amendment,” said ADF Legal Counsel Caleb Dalton.
For additional information or to request an interview contact YAF Spokesman Spencer Brown via [email protected] or 800-872-1776.