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Students sue Univ. at Buffalo officials, student gov't for derecognizing their club and blocking their financial account

ADF attorneys available for media interviews Friday following hearing
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WHO: Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys

WHAT: Available for media interviews following oral arguments in University at Buffalo Young Americans for Freedom v. University at Buffalo Student Association

WHEN: Immediately following hearing, which begins at 10:30 a.m., EDT, Friday, April 26

WHERE: U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, 2 Niagara Sq., Buffalo. To schedule an interview, contact ADF Media Relations Specialist Hayden Sledge at (205) 767-4705.

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a Young Americans for Freedom chapter and three students at the University at Buffalo will be available for media interviews Friday following oral arguments in federal district court. ADF attorneys are challenging university officials and the Student Association after they derecognized the conservative student group and barred it from receiving the same benefits as other student groups because it is a chapter of a national organization, Young America’s Foundation.

ADF attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against the school in June, and a month later, the Student Association rescinded its policy and recognized YAF, but it replaced the policy with another unconstitutional one that requires student organizations and their leaders to give up their legal rights in order for the clubs to be officially recognized. Now, because Young Americans for Freedom rightly won’t sign a form waiving its legal rights, the Student Association has blocked the student group from accessing more than $6,000 in student-fee funding in its account, using authority given it by university officials. ADF attorneys filed a motion in March asking the court to allow the student group to access funds while the case proceeds.

“All students, regardless of their political affiliations, should have access to generally available resources, and universities are constitutionally bound to protect these rights,” said ADF Legal Counsel Logan Spena, who will be arguing before the court on behalf of YAF and the students. “Unfortunately, the University at Buffalo and its student government are picking and choosing winners and losers in the marketplace of ideas, first by punishing the group for its national affiliation with a conservative group, then by demanding that group leaders sign away their freedoms. Public universities cannot force student organizations to become an extension of the university or student government. We are urging the court to stand up for the First Amendment rights of all students, not just some.”

The university’s new policy requires that club leaders certify that they surrender their, and their organization’s, right to file a lawsuit against the university or its officials in the future, exist as a legal entity under state law, have financial accounts as an organization, and enter into agreements with other individuals or organizations. As a result, ADF attorneys amended their lawsuit in University at Buffalo Young Americans for Freedom v. University at Buffalo Student Association after the school rescinded the original policy barring the group from official recognition.

Young Americans for Freedom has existed as a registered student organization on the UB campus since 2017, and for the last two years, the student group has had more than 100 members and has held weekly meetings on campus. As a chapter of Young America’s Foundation, UB Young Americans for Freedom’s purpose is to provide an environment for the students of UB to learn about U.S. history, the U.S. Constitution, individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and other topics. Like other clubs, Young Americans for Freedom fulfills its mission by engaging in expressive activities on campus, including posting flyers and signs, hosting tables with information, inviting speakers to campus, and talking with fellow students.

Denis Kitchen, one of more than 4,500 attorneys in the ADF Attorney Network, is serving as local counsel on behalf of Young Americans for Freedom and the students.

  • Pronunciation guide: Spena (SPEE’-nuh)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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Logan Spena
Logan Spena
Legal Counsel
Logan Spena serves as legal counsel for the Center for Academic Freedom with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he defends the rights of students, professors, and organizations to speak, associate, and worship freely.