First of all, I want to thank you and the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy for sponsoring my recent speech at Wake Forest University. I also want to apologize for wasting the students’ time by giving them some advice they really didn’t need. Please allow me to explain.
One of the points I emphasized in my speech was the need for College Republican groups to form coalitions with other political groups – groups that do not necessarily share their political views – to combat First Amendment abuses at colleges and universities in North Carolina. I didn’t know at the time that some students in the audience were already one step ahead of me.
After my speech at Wake Forest, I was handed a joint complaint written by the UNCG College Republicans and the UNCG College Libertarians, many of whom came from Greensboro to hear the speech. The complaint was inspired by the report released on January 10th, 2006 by the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education entitled “The State of the First Amendment in the University of North Carolina System.”
One of the criticisms of UNCG included in the report – under the heading “Nondiscrimination Policies” – reveals that at UNC Greensboro, all registered student organizations must include an “anti-discrimination statement” in their constitutions. That mandate reads as follows:
“The Anti-Discrimination statement must include that student organizations may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, gender, age, national origin, disability, military, veteran status, political affiliation or sexual orientation.”
After reading your report, members of the College Libertarians and College Republicans recognized that their rights as political organizations are being circumvented by this patently unconstitutional policy.
It is clearly unreasonable to request political organizations to admit members of opposing political parties. To require them to do so would sabotage the level of political discourse on campus. Therefore, these two groups have asked UNCG to change this policy. They have asked that the anti-discrimination statement be altered to except political groups from the political affiliation portion of the statement and religious groups from the religion portion of the statement.
Until the anti-discrimination statement is officially altered, the Republicans and Libertarians are refusing to include the full statement in their respective organizational constitutions. They are also refusing to otherwise comply with the unconstitutional policy. And, best of all, they have warned the UNCG administration that they are prepared to pursue legal action to remedy the situation.
College Libertarian President Allison Jaynes, and College Republican President Melissa Westmoreland have sent the joint complaint to the following parties: Patricia Sullivan (President of UNCG), Lucien Capone (University Counsel for UNCG), and Erskine Bowles (President of the University of North Carolina System).
The College Republicans are also playing hardball with the administration by seeking contact information for all UNCG donors over the last three years – the span of time since their First Amendment problems began at UNCG. In addition to seeking records concerning all donations over the past three years, they have asked for the tiered donor lists maintained by University Advancement – the “Gift Clubs,” “Chancellor’s Society,” etc. – so they can more readily distinguish big and small donors.
George, it should come as no surprise that the day after the College Republicans sent their letter to the Chancellor complaining about the anti-discrimination policy, they were hit with a $238 charge for producing a few dozen pages of donor information. I once had a request for 1100 pages of information completed for only $54. So, naturally, I am suspicious. But, naturally, I also have a solution.
Because I have already mailed the letter you are reading to over 100,000 people – a letter that includes the CR mailing address (UNCG College Republicans, Elliot University Center, Box N3, Greensboro, NC 27402-6170) – they should have no problem getting the $238 from my readers. In other words, we will get those donor lists.
The only question that remains is whether we will have to file suit. I have already found two pro bono attorneys to represent the Republicans and Libertarians. We will change this policy the easy way or, if we have to, the hard way. Either way, thanks for helping us stir the pot, George. I’ll be in touch.Download file "Republicans and Libertarians, unite!"
Schools: University of North Carolina – Wilmington University of North Carolina – Greensboro University of North Carolina – Pembroke University of North Carolina – Charlotte University of North Carolina School of the Arts Cases: University of North Carolina System: State of the First Amendment