UWSP admin overrules student gov, recognizes TPUSA chapter
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point has overturned the student government’s decision to deny recognition to a prospective Turning Point USA chapter amid legislative pressure.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Al Thompson issued a statement Friday stating that he had “asked SGA to reconsider its action on November 16, based on UW-Stevens Point and UW System policies recognizing student organizations, SGA guidelines on viewpoint neutrality, and a UW Board of Regents policy on academic expression,” but was forced to step in after SGA failed to take action.
"I have determined that Turning Point USA meets the requirements to be recognized as a student organization at UW-Stevens Point."
The SGA had originally denied the group recognition based on accusations that it was “dangerous,” a “threat,” and a “hate speech group” that “attacks people of different backgrounds.”
Thompson’s decision to reverse the SGA vote comes after the university received pressure from Wisconsin state senator Patrick Testin, who stated that he believed that the “decision stifles the free expression of ideas on campus and is antithetical to the mission of the university.”
Thompson’s statement acknowledges that he did indeed wait for the SGA to correct the situation on its own, asserting that “in the absence of further SGA action on November 16, I have determined that Turning Point USA meets the requirements to be recognized as a student organization at UW-Stevens Point.”
The SGA’s meeting agenda for Thursday did not include any reference to considering a reversal of the decision, but according to Testin, the administration was “hoping they would take it upon themselves.”
“UW-Stevens Point’s strategic plan outlines our mission, vision, and values, which include valuing diversity and inclusivity,” Thompson stated. “We define diversity as differences in background, identity, ability, and more; includes race/ethnicity, gender role and identity, age, religion, political perspective, sexual orientation, nontraditional student, veteran, disability, chronic illness, and socioeconomic status.
“UW-Stevens Point is a teaching and learning institution, and this process has been a learning experience for all,” he added. “As an institution that values diversity and the freedom to explore all ideas, even unpopular ones, UW-Stevens Point remains committed to a learning environment that respects multiple viewpoints and ensures discourse is civil and our campus is safe for all.”
Student Body President Sean Piette indicated that student government would accept the administration’s ruling, but defended its original decision to deny TPUSA official recognition.
“The Student Government Association Senate voted with their conscience and with input from many of their constituents. This decision was overturned by Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Al Thompson on November 17th,” he affirmed. “We welcome Turning Point USA at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point as an officially recognized student organization on this campus.”
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