November 8, 2010
President Judy Genshaft
University of South Florida
Office of the President
4202 E. Fowler Avenue, ADM 241
Tampa, Florida 33620
Sent via U.S. Mail and Facsimile (813-974-5530)
Dear President Genshaft:
FIRE has received Dean for Students Kevin Banks’ October 28, 2010, response to our October 15 letter. Thank you for your response. We are pleased that the University of South Florida (USF) has permitted Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) to continue with the process of gaining full active status at USF as a registered student organization. We expect that USF will fulfill its role in the process without undue delay.
USF’s response has not yet assured us, however, that administrators will use “narrow, objective, and definite standards” to determine whether to recognize prospective student organizations. Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham, 394 U.S. 147, 150-51 (1969). USF may not employ the unconstitutional policy stated by Student Programs Coordinator Edna Jones Miller that “no other student organization can exist with the same or similar mission/purpose” (emphasis added; space removed).
Furthermore, given USF’s actions in the case of YAF, it is not acceptable for USF to maintain an official policy that “[a] student organization with the same purpose/goals [as an already-existing student organization] cannot currently exist” (emphasis in original). The requirement that an administrator judge whether two student organizations have “the same purpose/goals” fails the Supreme Court’s requirements in Shuttlesworth. If USF merely wants to prevent two identical organizations from existing simultaneously-those with identical missions, purposes, goals, and methods of achieving them-it must clearly state as much, using “narrow, objective, and definite standards” to guide USF administrators.
Thank you again for your prompt attention to students’ rights in this matter. We respectfully ask for a response by November 22, 2010.
Vice President of Programs
Jennifer Meningall, Vice President for Student Affairs
Kevin M. Banks, Dean for Students
Edna Jones Miller, Student Programs Coordinator