After denying a Young Americans for Liberty chapter for trending “towards one certain political agenda”, Flagler College tried to shut down a free speech ball event the ragtag group wanted to have on campus.
According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), student Kelli Huck tried to start a Young Americans for Liberty chapter at Flagler College and was denied by the school’s student government association because, as told by SGA President Caitlin Croley, the group would “trend towards one certain political agenda.”
Some alumni of Flagler College, however, are not buying Croley’s answer. While she cannot vote in these types of affairs, alumni that talked to Hypeline News said Croley should have “completely recused herself from this situation because of her blatant conflict of interest.”
According to the alumni, the conflict of interest stems from Croley currently being the Vice President of the Florida College Democrats, the Vice President of the Flagler College Democrats chapter, along with being a candidate for president of the Progress Florida College Democrats.
Former Flagler student Kayleigh Joy said this is similar to what happen when she tried to start a College Republican chapter at the school:
“For me it is a severe conflict of interest. I was one of the founders of the Flagler College Republicans and what is happening with YAL is very similar to what happened with us. We had to go to SGA multiple times for approval (as a member of SGA at my time at Flagler, most clubs at Flagler are flat out approved by SGA unless there is already a club that covers their mission/purpose or they have no real plan in place). In our case the president at the time (and several officers) were members of political guild (the only political group on campus at the time). When we went for the second time for approval the SGA meeting was in the rotunda, they gave out voting member cards to everyone (which was a complete violation of the rules for voting) and brought in most of political guild to try to shut the club down, unsuccessfully.”
Joy added they have done recusals in the past:
“There is a clause to allow abstentions for voting members who feel they have a conflict of interest and SGA officers may recuse themselves. Myself and one of my friends who also helped found the College Republicans chapter abstained when the College Democrats came up for a vote (though we were in complete support of their existence). Not taking that abstention would have been irresponsible in my personal opinion. Again, Caitlyn is a wonderful and passionate person and I do not want to portray her in any other way.”
In spite of the denial, Huck still planned to host a free speech ball event on campus, but was once again denied because only registered student groups can host events on school grounds.
“I am astounded that a leader in higher education has chosen to deny the right to free speech not only to myself, but to other students at Flagler College,” Huck told FIRE.
In their statement, FIRE said this was unacceptable because this denial means “Flagler argues that only students who receive permission from its administration can speak freely on campus.”
In a new press release, FIRE has stated Flagler College had “retroactively granted permission” to allow Huck host the free speech ball event, even though the event had already taken place.
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