[1/10/17] The Student Coalition for Progress at the University of Wisconsin-Madison recently pushed a petition that alleged University of Wisconsin Madison’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter is a hate group and its members and efforts “create a hostile environment on campus.”
Young Americans for Freedom is a conservative student organization that aims to promote free market economics and Reaganesque principles.
The 3-week-old petition, titled “Denounce Young Americans for Freedom and the alt-right,” also recommended Young Americans for Freedom members be subjected to “intensive diversity training.”
The petition was launched about a month after YAF hosted conservative columnist Ben Shapiro on campus to speak about microaggressions, safe spaces and free speech. The petition decried Shapiro’s visit, claiming it made minority students feel unsafe, and accused Shapiro of denying “systematic and institutional violences” against so-called marginalized communities.
The petition also claimed “members of YAF 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 unsafe prominent members of student government.”
The Student Coalition for Progress states on its Facebook page that it “delivered” its petition on Dec. 23. A petition update also blamed YAF social media posts for alerting the news media about the university’s new “Problem of Whiteness” class, and encouraged supporters to file a “hate and bias” report if they have been traumatized by YAF members or the national outrage news of the class prompted.
(The College Fix, which broke the story about the “Problem of Whiteness” class, actually learned of its existence from a Multicultural Student Center email, not from YAF social media, as the petition asserts).
UW YAF Chair Kara Bell called the petition “complete defamation” in a phone interview withThe College Fix.
“They [Student Coalition for Progress] released the petition and tried to make it a huge deal, but all of their accusations are completely false,” Bell said. “The administration didn’t even seem to know what this petition was talking about. We don’t know who started the petition but the last thing we would ever want to do is target a student.”
Bell noted the petition was released during finals week, a move she believes was deliberate. Her YAF chapter had had its final meeting Dec. 4.
Other conservative campus groups rushed to support YAF after the petition’s dissemination.