A libertarian student group, Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) has filed a lawsuit against University of California, Berkeley for refusing to grant it an official club status, alleging a case of political discrimination. YAL started out as a pro-Ron Paul group, and helped organize students who support Rand Paul’s brand of Libertarianism.
YAL, has challenged the university’s explanation that it had denied the club recognition because YAL is allegedly “too similar” to an existing campus organization, the Cal Libertarians. But how many countless duplicate clubs in Berkeley are devoted to “Social Justice,” “Communism” and progressivism? The administration has no problem with those!
The federal lawsuit, filed on Monday, alleges that Berkeley’s policies governing status recognition are “arbitrary and without justification and result in and from content and/or viewpoint discrimination.”
Lacking official status, YAL cannot reserve any space, invite speakers, or receive university funding drawn from the $694 per-semester campus fee, as per the suit.
In the absence of support from Berkeley, YAL members are bearing the cost of their campus activities directly – something that student groups are never expected to do.
YAL President Cliff Maloney also said in a statement, “It is absurd to think that other Berkeley groups are lighting the campus on fire and throwing rocks through windows, but YAL’s efforts to peaceably promote the message of liberty are being shunned by university administrators.”
Caleb Dalton, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom and lead counsel for YAL had said, “Public universities are supposed to be a ‘marketplace of ideas’ for students, but that can’t happen when administrators are allowed to pick and choose which student organizations will be recognized based on the students’ views.”
University spokesperson, Dan Mogulof, further said that “UC Berkeley categorically rejects the allegation that a decision regarding the status of a student organization was made based on the group’s political perspectives or beliefs. University of California policies clearly and specifically preclude denying recognition based on political viewpoint. It has never happened in the past, and will never happen in the future.”
Mogulof further said that “no final decision has been made” on YAL’s status, “as the process is not yet complete.” The YAL students could achieve the recognition by conferring with the Cal Libertarians and determining “if they want to combine or remain separate,” he said.
The club application deadline for this semester has already passed.
Mogulof had added that UC Berkeley recently gave official status to the Berkeley Conservative Society, though the school already has a chapter of the College Republicans, as proof that university policies do not discriminate on political lines, but “do seek to ensure that there is not more than one group with the exact same focus or charter.”
YAL says that multiple clubs exist that “appear almost identical,” such as the Queer Alliance & Resource Center, the Queer Student Union, and the UNITY Resource Center.
The defendants include the UC System President, Janet Napolitano, Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, and Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Stephen Sutton.