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University of Buffalo sued over revoking recognition status for Young Americans for Freedom student group

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The Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) claimed that the University of Buffalo suppressed its student chapter in a new lawsuit filed on Thursday.

According to the lawsuit by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the Student Association at the university voted to revise policies regarding club recognition back in March.

The policies now include the following requirement: “Except for clubs in the Academic, Engineering, or Sports Councils, and clubs whose sole purpose is to engage in inter-collegiate competition, no SA club may be a chapter of or otherwise part of any outside organization.”

Though the Buffalo chapter of the YAF had been recognized as an official student club since 2017, the new policy revoked its recognition status due to its affiliation with the national organization Young America’s Foundation.

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The lawsuit claims that this is in violation of many conservative students’ rights to assembly. 

“It has been well-established since at least 1972 that affiliation with a national organization is ‘an impermissible basis upon which to deny First Amendment rights’ of association to student organizations at public universities. But today, University at Buffalo Staff and the UB Student Association acting under authority from the University have done just that,” the lawsuit read. 

It continued, “Defendants have derecognized and barred Young Americans for Freedom from benefits on campus because they are a chapter of a national organization—Young America’s Foundation… Defendants’ national-affiliation ban violates Young Americans for Freedom and its members’ rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”

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The ADF also argued that the YAF was specifically targeted citing remarks made by the student body president upon making the revision.


The lawsuit, filed by Alliance Defending Freedom, claims the move is in violation of many conservative students’ rights to assembly. 
The lawsuit, filed by Alliance Defending Freedom, claims the move is in violation of many conservative students’ rights to assembly. 
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“In adopting this revision at this time, the Student Body President sought legal counsel and told the Student Association Senate, ‘We all know why we’re doing this,’ thereby admitting they were targeting Plaintiffs and their views,” the lawsuit read.

Without university recognition, the YAF Buffalo chapter would lose access to funding, the ability to reserve space for events, the privilege to fundraise and the eligibility to take part in membership recruitment opportunities. 

“Universities can’t pick and choose which student groups are allowed on campus, but the new policy at the University of Buffalo is doing just that by kicking out groups that are affiliated with a national organization. This is a gross violation of the First Amendment, and we are hopeful the court will recognize that,” Caleb Dalton, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, told Fox News Digital. 


Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence answers questions from the crowd during the Young Americas Foundation Student Conference on July 26, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence answers questions from the crowd during the Young Americas Foundation Student Conference on July 26, 2022 in Washington, DC.
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Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and President of Young America’s Foundation, also remarked on the lawsuit in a statement to Fox News Digital.

“Universities have a duty to ensure the voices of conservative students are heard and protected. We’ll continue to work with our friends at ADF to ensure that’s the case for UB YAF. To the college students who are fighting for their constitutional rights on campuses across the country, you are not alone – YAF has your back,” Walker said.

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The decision to revise the organization recognition policy followed a YAF event hosting conservative pundit Michael Knowles.

After Knowles spoke on campus March 9, the Student Association voted to revise the policy less than three weeks later on March 27.

The policy gave organizations until May 17 to “unaffiliate” with its organization or lose its status.

The revision also affected the student chapters for Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Turning Point USA, Amnesty International and Circle K (Kiwanis).

The YAF lawsuit also requested “nominal damages” against the organization for these actions along with attorney fees and “other further relief to which Plaintiffs may be entitled.”

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