Evangelical Christian University Rejects Student Group Over ‘Divisive Language’

A student group at a popular Christian university is expressing disappointment over a decision made by administrators to deny the opening of a chapter of a pro-family, anti-feminist organization that it finds controversial.

The Young Conservative Club at Azusa Pacific University near Los Angeles, California states that it recently requested to convert its organization into a chapter of the Young America’s Foundation (YAF). However, administrators at the university denied the request, stating that it wished to foster unity and the school despite the vast differences in viewpoints that are espoused by students, and noted that the Young America’s Foundation uses language that is “divisive.”

According to World on Campus, administrators informed YAF Vice President Todd Cole that it was uncomfortable with some of the wording on the organization’s website.

“Are you tired of liberal ideas dominating your campus? Are you tired of liberal and Marxist professors indoctrinating your classmates?” read one of the sections that the university objected.

Azusa Pacific University also reportedly took issue with language that stated, “Radical feminists, big government bureaucrats, fringe environmentalists, race-baiters, Islamo-fascists, and run of the mill leftists are distraught that you would even think about promoting conservative ideas.”

Ashley Blackwell, the chair of the Young Conservative Club then wrote an open letter to Fox News to outline her frustration with the university’s decision, opining that while the university states that it welcomes diverse viewpoints, its rejection of the group seemed directly antithetical to those claims.

“As an academic institution placing God first in all that we do, we not only welcome open dialogue with political student clubs on our campus, we encourage it as part of the total growth experience of our students,” wrote the media relations department in a statement issued to the media. “Azusa Pacific supports much of what YAF stands for, including its goal of preserving the U.S. Constitution, its values, and the God-given rights that we are guaranteed in that precious document. However, YAF uses divisive language and embraces some forms of political activism that do not align with who we are as a university.”

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Blackwell claims that she did not intend to engage in any forms of activism with the group, if formed.

“APU has supported and will continue to support open and honest discourse on a variety of political opinions and ideas,” Azusa Pacific University continued in its statement. “We strive to avoid those polarizing discussions commonly found in secular society, and instead encourage our community to examine political issues from a Biblical worldview, to model civic virtue for our campus community, and to encourage spiritual unity in Christ.”

However, the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute states that the university is ignoring the assertion that Blackwell and others often are scorned by other students on the Christian campus for their views.

“While it may be true that APU considers itself a campus that ‘supports the opportunity for all students to engage in open political dialogue,’ its administrators appeared to turn a largely blind eye to the bias and bullying Ashley and her fellow conservative students face there,” Catherine Helsley Rodriguez wrote in an article about the matter last week.

Rodriguez states that Blackwell came to the organization in her Freshman year looking for assistance after one of the resident advisors on campus threatened to undo her Biblical beliefs.

“Ashley was confronted time and time again by her college-sanctioned RA hell-bent on indoctrinating the young women in her hall with liberal feminist ideology,” she explained. “‘Before this year is over,’ the RA quite seriously told Ashley early on, ‘I will make you a liberal feminist democrat who believes in gay marriage and abortion.'”

Rodriguez states that Blackwell also faced “inappropriate taunting by liberal peers meant to intimidate and silence her,” including when she organized an event at the university that centered around why feminism is wrong for Christian women.

“Although they did permit her to host the event on APU’s campus, Ashley received virtually no support from campus faculty and administrators,” she continued. “Several weeks before the event, Ashley began putting up posters to advertise the lecture. Within 24 hours, most of her posters were either torn down or defaced with devil horns and Hitler mustaches…”

Blackwell claims that many students that attended the event laughed and blurted out inappropriate comments, and continued to mock her in social and classroom settings.

Therefore, Blackwell felt that it is necessary to convert her current conservative organization into a YAF group, and continue to take a stand for her beliefs.

However, Jennifer Walsh, the the associate dean for Azusa Pacific’s college of liberal arts, informed reporters that “[t]he [YAF website] seemed to be intentionally pitched to students who are facing a hostile learning environment. … That’s not what we have at Azusa Pacific.”

Blackwell says that she will continue to press administrators to allow her to convert the chapter into a YAF group, and will continue to stand for her beliefs at the university.

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  • Jefferson

    The CBLPI article fails to mention any specific actions of intimidation and taunting of Blackwell other than the RA. After the RA vowed to make Blackwell a liberal, Blackwell complained and the university banned RAs from using their positions for political advocacy. APU supported Blackwell. Blackwell received no support from APU to bring a guest speaker to campus? They allowed her to bring a speaker, which she did. What were they supposed to do? Get her a jet and a limo? And saying that she won’t participate in activism on campus through a YAF chapter is ridiculous. YAF calls its members activists. That’s their mission. No where does this article state the basic question at issue — can a private religious university be forced to officially affiliate with a secular political organization. Constitutionally, freedom of religion does not allow it. If APU decides YAF’s lack of civil discourse is just as much a problem as RAs abusing their positions, then APU has a right to deny YAF just as they put a stop to the RA. APU seems to have been very even-handed in managing the attempts by many different sides to try to interfere with the schools religious mission through politics.

  • Jeremy

    Great job APU! It’s so unfortunate that so many Christians espouse themselves with such divisive ideology and organizations. Jesus asked us to love one another, not attempt to find as many differences as possible and crusade to persecute those who represent those differences.