Recently APU has been receiving quite a bit of negative media attention for choices it made in regard to an on-campus political club. When the APU Young Conservatives club approached Communiversity about beginning a Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter at APU, administrators denied their request.
Though the university claims that it made its choice to deny the YAF chapter with good intentions, many of the recent press reports and articles have criticized APU for being too liberal, and have accused the school of being prejudiced toward conservative students.
The president of the APU Young Conservatives, who wishes to remain anonymous, has been involved in the Young America’s Foundation, which created the YAF chapter, since 2009. After becoming president of the school’s conservative club this year, she thought she would be able to begin a chapter of the YAF at APU.
“With the opportunity as club president this year, I wanted to chapter with YAF because of the great resources and backing we would have had,” the club’s president said. “YAF is such a reputable and highly respected organization. I really felt it would benefit the conservative students here on campus.”
According to the website of the Young America’s Foundation, it is an organization that seeks to inspire in young people the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise and traditional values.
When the board members of the APU Young Conservative decided they wanted to formally affiliate with the YAF, they spoke with the foundation about their interest and desire in bringing the chapter to APU. Before they could officially bring the YAF chapter to APU, the president of the club submitted a request for the change to Communiversity. It was at this point that administrators looked into the chapter and the YAF, and ultimately decided it would not be a good fit for APU.
“There is no legitimate reason for them to reject having a YAF chapter on campus,” Executive Director of YAF Patrick Coyle told the Daily Caller News Foundation. However, for administrators at APU there is one key reason the YAF would not be suitable for APU, and that is the language on the foundation’s website.
Associate Dean for the College of Liberal Arts Jennifer Walsh was part of the discussion between administrators that led to the denial of the official YAF affiliation.
“Chuck Strawn, the executive director of Communiversity, wanted my impression of the Young America’s Foundation because he found the language very troublesome,” Walsh said. “The language was not necessarily taking on a biblical worldview that is not always appropriate for a Christian campus.”
According to Walsh, though the principles of the YAF were fine and seemed to align with some of the views of the APU Young Conservatives, the literature was not a good fit.
“The language creates an ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ mentality, which is not what we want for APU,” Walsh said. “We must treat each other with love and be careful not to put people in categories.”
According to Assistant Director of Public Relations Rachel White, the reason APU would not take on a formal association with the foundation was because of the divisive language used to recruit college students for their YAF chapter.
White confirmed that the specific language APU found problematic was: “Are you tired of liberal ideas dominating your campus? Are you tired of liberal and Marxist professors indoctrinating your classmates? Do you want to advance conservatism? If you answered yes, then you should start a Young Americans for Freedom chapter. YAF chapters make a difference by boldly advancing freedom and conservatism. Radical feminists, big government bureaucrats, fringe environmentalists, race-baiters, Islamo-fascists and run-of-the-mill leftists are distraught that you would even think about promoting conservative ideas.”
“There will be no formal association with YAF because of the language they use to recruit college students,” White said. “Terminology like ‘Islamo-fascists’ and ‘race-baiters’ represents language that is divisive and is not a good fit for our Christ-centered university.”
The APU Young Conservatives’ president was especially confused about APU’s choice to block students from changing their name and formally affiliating with the YAF.
“It was odd to me because there was no written policy stating we couldn’t do this, but a few administrators had the authority to say no,” the club president said. “My point is that we are a Christian university that promotes acceptance, tolerance and love, even if you disagree with the other. I felt that in the absence of anything written, we should have the freedom of changing our name.”
The first of the articles about this situation were posted Oct. 5 by websites such as Fox News and Breitbart.com. Just two days later, White posted a university statement on APU’s website aimed at providing clarification about the issue.
“The university statement was posted because the university felt misrepresented and wanted to set the record straight,” White said. “As a private Christian university we have the right to choose what organizations we align with in order to promote unity on campus.”
In regards to the articles and reports made by the press thus far, Walsh invited them to get to know “us” and “what we believe.”
“We strive to put God first. Students are encouraged to explore other viewpoints and formulate their own opinions,” Walsh said.
Despite the fact that the APU Young Conservatives club was not granted the ability to change its name or formally identify with the YAF, the club president has made it clear that she will continue to advocate for the foundation to be recognized at APU.
Though the APU’s Young Conservatives’ president encouraged some of the media attention and wrote a piece about APU’s hypocrisy on free speech that can be found on the YAF’s website, White says the school still wants to come alongside the student and values her opinion.
“We encourage open discussions and dialogue,” White said. “At the heart of APU is a lot of love for our students. We want them to feel supported and we have their interest in mind as part of our as part of our ‘God First’ focus.”