Campus Free Speech

University of Florida Settles Lawsuit With Conservative Student Group

The suit came after the school denied funding to bring Dana Loesch and Andrew Klavan to campus.


The University of Florida (UF) has agreed to change a campus policy and pay $66,000 to the school's Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter on campus as part of a settlement with the student organization.

YAF sued the school in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida last December, alleging the school violated students' First and 14th Amendment rights. "The old policy unfairly taxed conservative students to underwrite the expression of leftist speakers on campus," YAF spokesman Spencer Brown wrote in a statement released Thursday.

UF had required all students to pay an annual activity fee, yet failed to give student groups equal access to the funds. Some campus groups automatically received annual money from this fund and could use it to bring speakers to campus, whereas others had to petition the school prior for funds prior to specific events. UF also gave the student government discretion to approve and deny funding, and YAF argued the body was not objective when deciding which groups to fund. 

"This past year, the University of Florida denied UF YAF funding to host Dana Loesch and Andrew Klavan," Brown wrote in a statement last December. "That denial … speaks loudly to the University of Florida's true intention to prevent conservative ideas being heard on campus."

The group's lawsuit argued that UF students "are entitled to the viewpoint-neutral distribution of the Student Activity Fees they have paid and will be required to pay, or to the repayment of fees they have paid and to be exempt from paying such fees in the future."

The school opted to settle with YAF and change its student activity and event policy.

"Thankfully, in response to this lawsuit, the University of Florida recognized the errors embedded within its policies by adopting changes that no longer force YAF members to pay into a system that funds opposing viewpoints and discriminates against their own," Caleb Dalton of Alliance Defending Freedom, who represented YAF, said in a statement.