University of Miami: Refusal to Approve Conservative Student Group

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Miami

The University of Miami (UM) refused to approve, on four separate occasions, a student organization created for "the exposition and promotion of conservative principles and ideas." The proposed student group, Advocates for Conservative Thought (ACT), tried consistently to gain official recognition through the Committee on Student Organizations (COSO), UM’s authorized agent for handling such matters. However, COSO denied the group recognition—which, under UM policy, it needed in order to use vital university facilities and resources, to be listed on the website for approved student groups and in the student handbook, and to promote itself on campus—on the grounds that the College Republicans student organization already offered a conservative voice on campus and that another group, the Council for Democracy, provided a political forum on campus. ACT contacted FIRE, which wrote to UM President Donna E. Shalala criticizing this violation of the right to free association. After FIRE took the case public, Shalala finally overruled COSO, allowing ACT to become officially recognized.