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Black conservative YAF event canceled after university obstacles

Last-minute changes force cancellation, group alleges

Young Americans for Freedom had its event canceled at Westminster College following demands from an administrator.

Vice President for Student Affairs Gina Vance “insisted that only Westminster students and faculty would be allowed to attend, even going so far as to exclude non-faculty staff and emeritus professors,” according to a news release from Young America’s Foundation.

“The Young Americans for Freedom chapter…requested [Vince] Ellison, a passionate black voice in the Conservative Movement, to speak out against the Left’s DEI, abortion, and transgenderism agendas,” the national conservative group stated.

The event was supposed to occur last night at the Presbyterian college.

At the last minute, Vance offered to let the group hire other security professionals for the event at the New Wilmington, Pa. college, according to Dylan Kresak, the chapter’s president.

Kresak also had to tell the school what Ellison’s (pictured) “expertise” was as part of the approval process, the junior political science major said during a phone interview on Monday with The College Fix.

Though one administrator then approved the event, Vance then said the “political” nature of the event required more steps.

Kresak said he never said it was a “political” event, though he said he wanted to bring Ellison to promote free speech.

Vance then put up hurdles to the event, including amending the contract and citing “security concerns” in shutting the public out of the speech.

The administrator, according to YAF’s president, would only provide one unarmed security officer. Vance also said the burden for security would be on the faculty advisor, Kresak told The Fix.

YAF’s advisor pushed back on those requests, leading to the cancellation of the event.

“The College has rescinded approval of the event scheduled for Tuesday, April 30. The event has been canceled,” Vance announced via email to the small school, with around 1,200 students.

Vance did not respond to an email on Monday seeking comment on the situation, including if there was any additional context to YAF’s version of what transpired that she could add.

The university’s media relations team did not respond to a voicemail or email on Monday that asked questions about the reasons for the cancellation and if the school would be working with the YAF chapter to find a solution this semester.

Ellison was a “correctional officer at a maximum-security prison” and grew up on a cotton plantation, according to his bio. He is also an author.

The small college has “a lot of DEI programs,” Kresak told The Fix, when asked about why he wanted to host Ellison.

“We have a DEI faculty committee, we have a DEI committee within the student government association,” he said. The music department also just hired a new jazz director through a DEI initiative.

“I saw that, and I really want to bring someone to speak about DEI,” Kresak said.

“I thought it was necessary that I…bring someone here, to talk about this.”

Speaker cancellation just one hurdle group faced

The YAF group has faced other problems on campus since beginning this school year.

“Getting the group approved was a very convoluted process,” Kresak said. The club had to get approval from several committees, composed of faculty and students.

Vance was on one of the committees but was not at the meeting for his group.

University leadership also denied funding requests for the Ellison event, Kresak told The Fix.

His chapter had similar problems getting a 9/11 memorial event approved. Young America’s Foundation has chapters and other groups put up American flags in remembrance of the people killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

His group had not been approved as of September 2023.

Even though a student life administrator approved the event, a higher-up soon squashed the event because his group had now been approved.

“We were approved in late November [2023],” Kresak said.

Prior to approval, the university’s Student Experience Council required the conservative club to answer two questions, according to an email reviewed by The Fix.

“Can you speak more to what you believe the positive and [emphasis original] negative perceptions of your organization will be within the campus community and the impact this may have on the lives of our students,” an email to Kresak stated.

“How do you plan to co-exist within the campus community with specific pre-existing organizations on campus whose viewpoints are in opposition to what YAF stands for nationally?”

MORE: UCLA becomes hotbed of anti-Israel hate

IMAGES: Young America’s Foundation; Courtesy of Dylan Kresak

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.