UI student organizations call for suspension of Iowa Young Americans for Freedom

Five student organizations are calling for the suspension of the Young Americans for Freedom due to alleged transphobic behavior and creating an unwelcoming environment on campus for trans students.


Isabella Cervantes

A student takes notes during Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, visit to the University of Iowa at the Iowa Memorial Union on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. Iowa Young Americans for Freedom organized the event.

Emily Delgado, Politics Reporter

After flyers were posted in downtown Iowa City showing a conversation between UI College Republicans Chair and Iowa Young Americans for Freedom by an unknown person, five student organizations began calling for YAF’s suspension.

The newly elected chair of UI College Republicans, Samuel Haack, used an offensive slur toward transgender people in a leaked Iowa Young Americans for Freedom group chat.

The conversation in question concerned the chair’s alleged encounter with a person who was upset about the organization chalking a message on the T. Anne Clearway.

To address the use of offensive language, Iowa Young Americans for Freedom Vice Chair John Piaszynski wrote in the group chat that the organization should not use the word, as the organization has had prior situations where their conversations have been leaked.

“It is the goal of the Iowa Young Americans for Freedom to foster a respectful environment where it is possible to discuss difficult topics by focusing on ideas, rather than the person espousing them,” Piaszynski wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan on Sunday. “We do not condone the use of disrespectful terms, and as is visible from the screenshot being shared, the individual who made the comment was immediately reprimanded and then apologized. We will continue to advocate for debate on these important issues ahead of our planned speaking event with Matt Walsh.”

University Democrats at Iowa President Nikša Poleksić said Piaszynski’s handling of the offensive language didn’t directly condemn it. He said the increase of anti-transgender rhetoric coming from the Iowa Legislature and conservative groups on campus has led to a normalization of hatred toward the transgender community.

“We thought it was necessary to put out the statement to draw attention to what is going on,” Poleksić said.

The University Democrats at Iowa, Young Democratic Socialists at Iowa Steering Committee, Ignite UI, Student Advocates for Planned Parenthood UI, and the Environmental Coalition at Iowa issued a statement Friday night calling out the offensive language used in the leaked messages.

“The language found in the screenshot is not that of misguided, inquisitive students seeking to hear different arguments and perspectives, but that of close-minded bigots seeking to put down those who do them no harm,” the statement stated.

With the UI’s approval, Iowa Young Americans for Freedom is set to host Matt Walsh, a conservative and anti-trans commenter, on April 19. The event’s annnouncement upset members of the UI community.

Piaszynski wrote in a release Wednesday that the Young Americans for Freedom chapter received backlash, including threats against the organization, because they invited Walsh to campus.

A Change.org petition opposing Walsh’s lecture amassed over 350 signatures as of Saturday.

“These messages should serve as yet another reminder of the shameless and deceptive attacks that they along with members of other conservative student organizations have directed toward the transgender community,” the five UI student organizations wrote in the statement.

The five organizations ended the statement by calling for the university to suspend Iowa Young Americans for Freedom and address the harmful rhetoric expressed by conservative groups on campus.