UC Berkeley student libertarians sue over lack of campus designation

A student libertarian group at the University of California at Berkeley has asked a federal judge to intervene in a campus dispute.

The campus chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) claims that campus administrators have so far denied it the privileges of a recognized student organization, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The campus recently ruled that the group couldn’t be formally recognized because of its similarity to another group – Cal Libertarians – and suggested that the two groups merge.

Information about the groups' reaction to the merger proposal was unavailable. But YAL offered its view on the impact of the lack of registered status.

“Because UC Berkeley has excluded Young Americans for Liberty from Registered Student Organization status and all the benefits that accompany it, the group cannot reserve space, invite speakers, or access the pool of funds their tuition covers,” the student group said in a statement.

On Monday, the group sued UC President Janet Napolitano, Chancellor Carol Christ, and other campus officials in U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif.

According to the suit, UC Berkeley has recognized 1,000 primarily liberal student groups, many of which overlap -- such as the Queer Student Union and the Queer Alliance & Resource Center, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The suit further claims that the decision to deny or delay formal recognition of Young Americans for Liberty violates the students’ constitutional rights to free speech, association, and equal protection.

Dan Mogulof, a spokesman for UC Berkeley denied the accusation, pointing to the campus’ recent recognition of “Berkeley Conservative Society.”

A statement from UC Berkeley said that no final decision has been made and the process is not yet complete.

UC Berkeley has experienced previous controversy with conservative figures on its campus. In February, right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos canceled a planned talk when rioters caused $100,000 in damages on campus to protest his arrival.

In April, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter canceled a planned talk at UC Berkeley after the campus restricted when and where she could speak. The event's organizers sued UC Berkeley, claiming that administrators were biased against conservative students.

UC Berkeley spent $800,000 on security for Yiannopoulos when he returned for 15 minutes in September.

Young Americans for Liberty originated in 2008 at the end of Libertarian candidate Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. According to its website, it has 917 chapters nationwide.