Table of Contents

Santa Clara University ratifies rejection of student group over its political views

The university's student chapel, Mission Santa Clara de Asis.

Santa Clara University promises free expression, but maintains a speech code banning "degrading language." Pictured: The university's student chapel, Mission Santa Clara de Asis. (Jejim/Shutterstock)

FIRE has raised the alarm about Santa Clara University’s treatment of its Young Americans for Freedom chapter for several months now. It started with the student government’s viewpoint-based refusal to recognize it as an official student group, and now culminates with the administration’s astonishing claim that the vote was entirely devoid of ideological malice toward the conservative group. 

The letter FIRE sent to SCU today lays out how the SCU administration had a golden opportunity to uphold the university’s laudable commitment to free speech—and failed to take it. 

After the student government twice voted to deny YAF official university recognition, which includes the ability to request funds, schedule speakers, and use campus facilities for events, the group petitioned the administration to overturn the vote. The petition, and FIRE’s first letter to SCU on May 17, explained how the student government meeting minutes clearly show that the senators rejected YAF over the group’s viewpoints, in violation of SCU’s promise to uphold its students’ right to express themselves. 

The minutes of the student government meetings are inundated with dozens of comments critical of YAF’s views from the majority of student government members who spoke at the latest vote. In our letter to SCU’s leadership, FIRE describes these comments in detail and asks SCU to account for the complete absence of any reason for denying recognition besides opposition to YAF’s political ideology. 

Unfortunately, SCU continues to display a baffling ignorance of what constitutes viewpoint discrimination. In denying YAF’s petition to overturn the flawed student government vote, it stated that “the record is insufficient to establish that the denial of recognition was based on YAF’s political opinion."

FIRE once again calls upon SCU to end its willful blindness to this viewpoint discriminatory conduct and to reverse the denial of official student group recognition to YAF. 

Recent Articles

FIRE’s award-winning Newsdesk covers the free speech news you need to stay informed.