MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — The Central Michigan University Student Government Association’s (SGA) Senate has dropped a resolution labeling the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) campus chapter a “hate group.”
“This is a major victory for free speech and accountability at CMU,” said YAF spokesman Dennis Lennox II. “These baseless accusations were nothing more than a witch hunt perpetrated by eight biased senators — I’m glad to see that truth and reason prevailed despite the irresponsible actions of the student Senate.”
The move comes after the independent student paper, Central Michigan Life, and members of YAF, an independent, conservative, student group started with the help of the Leadership Institute’s Campus Leadership Program, questioned the validity of the “hate group” accusations and the student Senate process used to pass the original resolution.
Senate actions began following a YAF-sponsored “Support the Troops” rally on April 9. Anti-homosexual comments had been written in chalk on the site of the rally the previous evening. There were no witnesses to the chalking, but unknown members of the Senate accused YAF members and drafted legislation to condemn the group.
“As president of YAF, I can say with 100 percent confidence that our organization did not encourage, sanction, condone or advocate the writing of these offensive, anti-homosexual statements,” said Chase Canning, student president of the CMU chapter of YAF, in a guest column printed in Central Michigan Life.
The Senate waived the standard two-week waiting period between the introduction of a resolution and calling for a vote. On the evening of April 9, nine of the 23 senators attended the SGA meeting, where eight members voted to label YAF a “hate group.” Members of YAF learned through a media phone call about the vote.
“I think it is outrageous that we were not given the opportunity to confront our accusers and respond to these preposterous and baseless allegations that amount to nothing more than malicious libel,” Canning wrote in his column.
“The Senate acted solely on hearsay in making its very hasty decision,” wrote the Central Michigan Life’s editorial board. “The nine senators should apologize immediately for their irresponsible actions. They were totally unwarranted.”
The Senate dropped the resolution because university administrators are currently addressing ways to protect the free speech of all campus groups. The university recently reversed a policy which forbade student groups from discriminating on the basis of political views after students opposing YAF threatened to infiltrate the group and vote out conservative members.
“I am pleased to know that Central Michigan University values free speech on campus,” said Morton Blackwell, president of the Leadership Institute. “Perhaps the students on the Senate should learn from the campus administrators and rededicate themselves to honest leadership and responsible governing.”
The “hate group” resolution may be resubmitted for Senate consideration in the fall. Members of YAF plan to continue campus events this spring. This year’s activities included a celebration on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and a screening of the award-winning “Obsession” documentary.
The Leadership Institute’s Campus Leadership Program helps conservative students start newspapers and organizations on college campuses. Between September 2004 and April 2007 the number of active CLP groups at colleges and universities grew from 216 to 1,034; a 478 percent increase. These groups fight for conservative principles on campuses in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Students who would like to start a conservative group or campus newspaper should visit www.campusleadership.org. Additional information on the Leadership Institute is available at www.leadershipinstitute.org.