National young conservative group complains UK staff showed bias against it


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Rick Childress

Young America’s Foundation, a national young conservative group, alleged that UK employees showed bias against the group while it established a student organization on UK’s campus.

The group posted an article Wednesday, accusing employees in UK’s Office of Student Organizations and Activities of delaying and joking about the group’s application to become an official on-campus student organization. 

UK employees followed university regulations while approving the conservative group’s request to become a student organization, said UK spokesperson Jay Blanton. But he said that UK staff are being reminded to discuss such matters with better language. 

“We apologize for what happened and have taken steps to ensure that it does not occur again,” Blanton said. “From our review of all the correspondence, this process was handled in accordance with our regulations — regulations designed to ensure fairness and access to all potential student organizations.”

The group was approved as a registered student organization after it submitted all of the necessary documentation, Blanton said.

According to Young America’s Foundation website, the group is a conservative outreach group that “introduces thousands of American youth to these principles.” The group has chapters at colleges and high schools across the country.

Certain chapters of the group have encountered controversy on other college campuses, as they have invited conservative speakers to college campuses across the country.

The article posted by the group alleges that UK staff were discriminatory in reviewing the group’s student organization status, and the piece highlights certain internal UK emails and instant messages obtained by the group which it says show a bias against conservative ideas.

UK staff took issue with the group’s submitted constitution which required students to sign the Sharon Statement, a pledge to believe in certain conservative ideals like small government and laissez-faire economics.

“In this time of moral and political crises, it is the responsibility of the youth of America to affirm certain eternal truths,” the Sharon Statement, which is on the group’s website, begins.

“oh jesus tap dancing christ,” wrote Meghan Jennings, a member of UK’s student organization staff, to another coworker on an internal instant messaging system. Jennings continued, eventually writing that the group’s submitted forms “feels so dated.”

“oh yes its terrible,” wrote Caitlyn Walsh, the Assistant Director at the Student Organizations’ office.

The message were published by the Young America’s Foundation on the group’s website. 

Blanton said that UK is encouraging its staff to use more professional language when handling requests from potential student organizations. 

“(W)e are reinforcing with all of our staff the importance of using appropriate language that does not inadvertently create any misperceptions regarding the work we are doing and the seriousness with which all of our staff members do it,” Blanton continued. “We expect everyone — regardless of who they are, where they are from, or what they believe — to be treated with respect. We have reinforced that expectation with everyone on our staff.”