Students seeking to form a Young Americans for Freedom club at Roger Williams University were shut down by a student government subcommittee, which voted unanimously on Tuesday to reject the conservative group’s bid for official recognition.
The student-driven YAF club sought support to host patriotic events, showcase educational efforts on the Constitution, free market, liberty and free speech, and bring high-profile conservative speakers to campus — but members of the school’s Student Senate Clubs and Organizations Committee decided that mission was too similar in scope to the already-approved RWU College Republicans.
A statement penned by the committee stated in part:
“At this time, we have taken your club request very seriously and done extensive research to understand if this proposed group would distinguish itself among our near seventy clubs that Student Senate chooses to sponsor. However, it is our collective decision to unfortunately deny the request of the Young Americans for Freedom to become a Student Senate chartered club because of its close resemblance to our already sponsored club in the College Republicans of RWU. Although YAF associates itself with an ideology rather than with a political party, we have determined that the mission statements as well as club membership and events would have similar resemblance and appeal across the student body.”
The statement went on to advise sophomore William Nardi, who led the effort to launch the club, to try and secure a sponsorship through a university academic department, or appeal the decision to the entire student government.
Nardi, who on Tuesday presented a 14-page power point to the organizations committee to illustrate that YAF and the College Republicans have distinctly separate missions, told The College Fix he is very frustrated by his peers’ decision, and feels persecuted for being an outspoken conservative on campus.
He said the rejection basically means his fledgling group, in which 20 students have expressed an interest in, will not be able to reserve spaces or host events at the private, Rhode Island campus.
He said more than 200 universities have both a College Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom, and the decision to deny YAF’s formation at Roger Williams University is based on the student subcommittee members’ ideologies.
YAF spokeswoman Emily Jashinsky said the group plans to fight the decision.
“As the public increases pressure on schools to treat conservative students fairly, the Left is leveraging bureaucracy to more subtly discriminate against YAF activists,” she said in a statement to The College Fix. “This case at Roger Williams is a good example of that trend. Young America’s Foundation will not accept this outcome and is actively working with students to ensure they’re able to operate a YAF chapter on campus.”
Emails from The College Fix to campus administrators seeking comment on the issue were not responded to on Wednesday.
Editor’s Note: William Nardi is also a student reporter for The College Fix.
Editor’s Note: This article has been amended from its original version.