Is it wrong to create a campus organization that expects all its members to share similar politics? I’m sure the ACLU doesn’t think so. Neither does Emily’s List.
Well, the University of Virginia apparently won’t let a conservative student group require members be conservatives. From The College Fix:
The University of Virginia refuses to recognize a conservative student organization because it requires members to affirm conservative principles, according to a warning letter from the organization’s lawyers.
The Alliance Defending Freedom gave the university until Wednesday to recognize the Young Americans for Freedom chapter, saying UVA is violating both state law and the First Amendment.
A student government official told the club that requiring members to affirm the “Sharon Statement” — the 57-year-old founding document of Young Americans for Freedom — violated a campus rule for “Contracted Independent Organizations” that bans discrimination based on “political affiliation.”
“Our students’ speech and association rights are being violated by administrators at the University of Virginia,” said Spencer Brown, spokesperson for Young America’s Foundation, the umbrella organization for Young Americans for Freedom chapters.
The obviously Leftist student government apparently isn’t thinking about how its stance will cause disastrous, and hilarious, consequences for other student groups.
For example, these supposed anti-discrimination rules could force a feminist group to take in a batch of men’s rights activists. Or Richard Spencer acolytes to be allowed entry to a Black Lives Matter-affiliated group. Or Christian evangelicals to join a Muslim student group.
The fact is that there’s nothing wrong with a group expecting certain behaviors and beliefs from its members when they’re central to the group’s purpose. After all, as Brown notes, we do have freedom of association. That’s why such rules tend to be in place. They serve as a bulwark against not just infiltration, but against being co-opted.
Is there reason to be concerned about such rules? Sure. They can lead to purity tests that push out members who aren’t as whatever as others. However, it’s quite clear that UVA is only concerned about these issues when the student group is conservative.
An organization should have the right to construct a membership requirement meant to prevent subversion, and if UVA wants to keep going down this hole, don’t be surprised when the liberal groups start noticing problems. It’s a prime example of “be careful what you wish for.”