In Education

Conservative Group Scores Victory After Legal Pressure Forces University To Approve Controversial Event

Purdue University approved a student group’s event featuring a conservative commentator after it received a legal demand letter warning that failure to permit the event could result in further action, the New Guard reported.

The Indiana university approved Daily Wire commentator Michael Knowles’ speech, hosted by the College Republican chapter and sponsored by Young America’s Foundation (YAF), after Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group, sent a warning letter on Wednesday that the school could be in violation of the First Amendment, according to the New Guard. The university originally told the student organizers to stop advertising the event because it was not officially approved, despite having signed a contract in February agreeing to the event.

Knowles spoke at the University of Buffalo on March 9, drawing a crowd of protestors outside of the venue during which one individual was arrested. The backlash is largely in response to his Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) speech delivered earlier this month, during which he called to eradicate transgenderism.

Purdue University first requested a meeting with the student organizers to address “roadblocks” ahead of the event before granting approval, and then scheduled a follow-up meeting two days before the speech, according to ADF’s letter. The school also ordered the chapter pay $5,253 in total security fees before approval could be granted, contradicting the contract which reportedly read that Purdue would be responsible for security wands and personnel.

“The University’s policies and its application as described raises serious legal concerns,” the letter read. “First, the security fee assessment against [Purdue University College Republicans] violates the First Amendment’s prohibitions against viewpoint discrimination and the heckler’s veto. Second, the security fee assessment violates the University’s contract. Third, the viewpoint discrimination via ‘unbridled discretion.’”

Purdue University notified students hours after the event was approved, the New Guard reported. It will also pay the security costs, YAF Spokesman Michael McGonigle told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“We appreciate Purdue’s commitment to free speech and look forward to hosting an excellent event next week at the University,” he said.

Knowles’ speech will be part of YAF’s Logan Family Lecture Series.

The Purdue Graduate Student Government approved an emergency bill on Wednesday to condemn the upcoming event and announce support for the LGBTQ+ campus community, according to the student newspaper The Exponent.

ADF did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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