Young America’s Foundation is leading the campus free speech movement nationwide. A victory for free speech at Kennesaw State University puts academia on notice — leftists will not get away with censoring conservative speech. YAF is fighting back.
KSU students sued KSU in federal court after school administrators discriminated against the YAF chapter because of its conservative beliefs — both by denying chapter members equal access to university resources and by charging students excessive fees to host a conservative speaker.
But, after months of negotiations, Kennesaw State University caved and agreed to a settlement that requires KSU to restore students’ free speech rights on campus and to pay the YAF chapter $17,100.
Prior to filing suit, it was KSU’s policy for school administrators to classify student organizations in a hierarchical four-tiered system. Student organizations assigned to higher tiers were afforded greater access to school resources, including greater access to the student activity fees that all students pay and are intended to benefit the student body as a whole. No conservative student group was rated higher than the bottom tier.
School policy also gave school administrators unbridled discretion to impose their own bias by levying security fees on student events expressing a different viewpoint. When the KSU YAF chapter hosted New York Times bestselling author Katie Pavlich for a campus lecture last spring, administrators imposed a $320 security fee on the event because they subjectively determined that Pavlich was too “controversial.”
This settlement changes things dramatically for students at KSU.
Finally, students’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights will be respected on campus. KSU’s bizarre four-tiered system for classifying student organizations has been eliminated.
Now, all student organizations will be afforded equal access to university resources. And now, school administrators no longer possess unbridled discretion to impose greater fees on speakers they disagree with or subjectively deem “controversial.” All fees are determined by objective standards that respect students’ speech rights.
Young America’s Foundation is actively litigating First Amendment cases against the University of California, Berkeley (YAF v. Napolitano) and the University of Minnesota (YAF v. Kaler). In each of these cases, school administrators tried to censor YAF-sponsored campus lectures featuring Ben Shapiro.