Conservative students at Azusa Pacific University, an evangelical Christian university near Los Angeles, have been blocked from starting a chapter of Young Americans for Freedom because the school took issue with the group’s principles.
The YAF is a program sponsored by the Young America’s Foundation — dedicated to introducing young people to the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise and traditional values. The foundation also owns and preserves the Reagan Ranch.
Patrick Coyle, vice president of the Young America’s Foundation, said they were approached by students who wanted to be recognized as a YAF chapter.
“They were told by the administrators that they could not change their name because they had looked at our website and didn’t like the language we used,” Coyle told Fox News.
University administrators said they have absolutely no problem with conservative clubs — but they did have an issue with YAF — and references on their website to liberal professors and radical feminists who are trying to take over college campuses across the nation.
Ashley Blackwell was one of the students hoping to launch the YAF chapter. She is currently the president of the Young Conservatives club on campus.
“It is really disappointing that a school, which promotes diversity and uses the mantra ‘everyone matters,’ would ban an existing club from changing its name,” she told Breitbart.com — which first reported the incident.
So Coyle called Chuck Strawn, the director of the university’s “Office of Communiversity.”
“I asked if there were any written rules the students had violated and he said no,” Coyle said. “He said it was just their opinion.”
He said the specific language Azusa Pacific took issue with is:
“Are you tired of liberal ideas dominating your campus? Are you tired of liberal and Marxist professors indoctrinating your classmates? Do you want to advance conservatism?
“If you answered yes, then you should start a Young Americans for Freedom chapter. YAF chapters make a difference by boldly advancing freedom and conservatism.
“Radical feminists, big government bureaucrats, fringe environmentalists, race-baiters, Islamo-fascists, and run of the mill leftists are distraught that you would even think about promoting conservative ideas.”
“It is even more frustrating that this censorship isn’t even due to school rules or policy,” Blackwell told Breitbart.com. “They just don’t agree with language on YAF’s website about colleges having liberal professors. I guess the truth hurts.”
Coyle agreed, noting, “I think that it’s very arrogant on their part to say what students can call their own group. That should be up to the students — and not the administrators.”
Jennifer Walsh, the associate dean for Azusa Pacific’s college of liberal arts, was a part of the discussions that ultimately led to the group being banned.
“We are sensitive to the need to make sure we are keeping our Christ-centered identity first and not allow students to align themselves with groups that are overtly partisan,” she told Fox News.
Walsh confirmed that the university’s student life director “was a little troubled” by some of the language on the YAF website.
“The (website) seemed to be intentionally pitched to students who are facing a hostile learning environment,” she said. “That’s not what we have at Azusa Pacific.”
She said the university ultimately determined the club would not be a good fit.
“It wasn’t so much that YAF is promoting conservative views,” she said. “It was more that it didn’t match the climate on campus. It might encourage discourse that is overtly partisan.”
The university does not have a College Republican or Young Democrat group. Instead, they offer a conservative club and a progressive club.
Walsh said it was “unfortunate this student has created a firestorm” over what she called a misunderstanding.
“We’re trying to avoid those same polarizing discourses that are happening in society,” she said. “Not that we don’t have healthy deliberation. We do. But we tend to do it from a biblical perspective — which encourages unity rather than divisiveness.”
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