Young America’s Foundation (YAF) is no stranger to controversy. The conservative organization that aims to educate young people about American values, has, of late, been banned from having a presence in a high school and now — on a college campus.
In 2011, we told you about La Reina High School, an all-girls Catholic educational facility located in Thousand Oaks, California, and its refusal to allow a YAF chapter on campus. Now, a conservative Christian college in the same state has denied a student’s request to launch a chapter.
Azusa Pacific University administrators reportedly refused sophomore Ashley Blackwell’s request to start the group on campus. While this is the case, the university is arguing that the issue surrounded the school’s opposition to rebranding, as a YAF affiliate, a conservative group that was already in existence.
Either way, YAF was apparently rejected because it was found to not fit in well with the school’s stated mission. According to an official statement on its web site, the university’s mission statement reads, “we work together as a team of difference makers to advance the work of God in the world through scholarship, teaching, and building disciples across all levels and delivery systems of collegiate education.”
Naturally, it would seem that YAF, in some way, runs contrary to these values. WORLD on Campus has more about the debate and how the situation unfolded:
In an open letter to Fox News, Blackwell, chair of her school’s Conservative Club, detailed her attempt to start the chapter and the opposition she met from APU administrators. After Blackwell submitted her application, Chuck Strawn, executive director of communiversity, told her that other administrators had problems with some language on YAF’s national website. He went on to tell her he could not approve her request.
In response to questions about their decision, APU administrators released a statement explaining their opposition to the “divisive” language YAF uses on its site as well as its emphasis on campus activism.
APU administrators told YAF Vice President Todd Coyle that they specifically objected to the text on YAF’s website under the “Start a Chapter” tab: “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?”
It didn’t end there. The school also took issue with other words including: “radical feminists,” fringe environmentalists, “Islamo-fascists” and “race-baiters,” among other semantics. Naturally, Blackwell noted how disappointed she was by the school’s decision, as the student said that she didn’t plan for the club to engage in activism and political activities.
The school, though, affirmed its Christian values and said that it seeks to avoid polarizing language that discourages unity.
“We strive to avoid those polarizing discussions commonly found in secular society, and instead encourage our community to…model civic virtue for our campus community, and…encourage spiritual unity in Christ,” the Azusa Pacific University statement read.
However, the college also claimed that the debate has been inaccurately represented in media and wrote the following in an attempt to defend itself:
Late last week, an online article inaccurately reported that the university banned a conservative club on campus. We would like to provide some clarification on that issue. The university’s Young Conservative club has been in existence for a number of years. Recently, the club requested to change their name and be formally associated with the Young America’s Foundation (YAF) group. The university instead encouraged the group to keep its membership open to all conservative students.
As an academic institution placing God First in all that we do, we not only welcome open dialogue with political student clubs on our campus, we encourage it as part of the total growth experience of our students. Azusa Pacific supports much of what YAF stands for, including its goal of preserving the U.S. Constitution, its values, and the God-given rights that we are guaranteed in that precious document. However, YAF uses divisive language and embraces some forms of political activism that do not align with who we are as a university.
WORLD also noted that Jennifer Walsh, associate dean for the school’s college of liberal arts, said that the issue with YAF being on campus has more to do with the fact that the organization seems to assist young people who face “a hostile learning environment.” This isn’t something that Walsh said is pertinent at Azusa Pacific.
Despite the school’s rejection of the club, Blackwell pledges to continue fighting for the club. Because the college is private, there is no compulsion, at least legally, for officials to accept YAF.
(H/T: WORLD on Campus)