A petition circulated at the University of Wisconsin Madison alleged that a conservative campus organization is a hate group. The petition, first reported on in December by the MacIver Institue and Young Americans for Freedom, was started by the Student Coalition for Progress and alleged that the UW-Madison chapter of YAF’s recent behavior now earns it the “hate group” label:
For the last few years, ultra-conservative student organization Young Americans for Freedom has existed on campus and has not been a threat to the greater campus community. They brought in speakers that espoused unsavory viewpoints and promoted conservatism, but were non-confrontational.That changed during the Fall 2016 semester.
So, what changed? From the petition:
When current chairwoman Kara Bell stepped in to replace the outgoing leader of the chapter, a decision was made to bring in controversial commentator Ben Shapiro. Shapiro has used his following and nationally syndicated media presence to deny the realities of systematic and institutional violences against Black and Brown people, sexual assault survivors, Muslims, LGBTQIA+ people, people with low income, people with differing abilities, undocumented immigrants, and anyone that is systematically targeted along identity lines.
Shapiro’s speech was met with protests and massive reaction from both those in favor of the speaker and those in opposition. While Young Americans for Freedom is basking in their newfound campus “relevance”, members of marginalized groups are feeling less safe than ever before.
Said one student: “I just watched Shapiro’s lecture, and as an international minority student, seeing familiar faces of classmates in the cheering crowd, I felt betrayed, unwelcome, and regretting my choice of university and ever coming to the U.S.”
Apparently, the SCP believes that bringing in a speaker that they disagree with that draws cheers from people they know is an act of hatred. The petition also alleges, without providing any evidence, that:
Members of Y.A.F. have further contributed to making campus a hostile environment by attempting to out and misgender LGBTQIA+ students as well as have individually confronted and made feel unsafe prominent members of student government.
The petition closes by asking for re-education for Y.A.F. members and that groups dissolution.
We, the undersigned are asking that UW-Madison administration take a hard look at the charter of Young Americans for Freedom, an organization where some of their chapters have been classified as hate groups by the SPLC, and ideally put the involved students through intensive diversity training and have the charter revoked so Y.A.F. is no longer a campus organization that can create a hostile environment on campus.
The College Fix reports that the petition gained more than 200 supporters after its Dec. 15 release, however has since been shut down after failing to meet a required number of signatures, according to YAF spokesperson Emily Jashinsky.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly credited The College Fix with breaking this story.