Santa Clara overturns student gov rejection of TPUSA chapter

Amber Athey
Investigative Reporter

  • Santa Clara University has overturned a decision by the Student Senate to block a Turning Point USA chapter on campus, citing free speech in its approval of the group.
  • One week prior to the Senate vote, during which protesters decried TPUSA as a "direct threat" to students, the Senate viewed a PowerPoint put together by its staff advisor lumping TPUSA together with white supremacist groups.
  • Santa Clara University has overturned a decision by the Student Senate to block a Turning Point USA chapter on campus, citing free speech in its approval of the group.

    The TPUSA chapter was initially denied for official recognition by the Student Senate after being compared to white nationalist organizations and deemed antithetical to the university’s values in a PowerPoint presentation shown to the student representatives by a staff advisor.

    “The decision...cannot be based on whether one agrees or disagrees with the political perspective of [TPUSA].”   

    Approximately 50 protesters attended the February 2 senate meeting at which TPUSA’s application was considered, with one student claiming that the club is a “direct threat” and another calling it “against our humanity.” An SCU employee even joined in on the action, placing TPUSA in an informational powerpoint about alt-right and white supremacy groups that was shown at the previous week’s meeting.

    [RELATED: TPUSA deemed 'direct threat,' denied recognition at Santa Clara]

    After being voted down at the Senate meeting, TPUSA organizers appealed the decision to the Student Court, which found that the Senate had not violated any bylaws in its denial of recognition.

    TPUSA, unsatisfied with this resolution, submitted a challenge to the Vice Provost for Student Life on February 27.

    Vice Provost Jeanne Rosenberg announced over the weekend that she would overturn the Senate’s decision, thereby granting official university recognition to TPUSA.

    In her statement, Rosenberg addressed the various concerns that senators had expressed while rejecting the group, including issues with ties to the national organization because of the Professor Watchlist and previous speaking invitations to Milo Yiannopoulos.

    [RELATED: Conservative group creates database of biased profs]

    “Some students expressed concerns over the actions and activities of the national Turning Point USA organization and campus chapters affiliated with Turning Point USA,” Rosenberg wrote. “However, consistent with our treatment of other RSOs that have affiliated with a national organization, we will not hold TPUSA-SCU responsible for all actions and activities of the national office or other TPUSA chapters.”

    Significantly, Rosenberg upheld the value of free speech on campus, stating that members of TPUSA are “entitled to express openly their views and opinions.”

    [RELATED: Students threatened with arrest for handing out Constitutions]

    “The decision to grant RSO recognition to TPUSA-SCU cannot be based on whether one agrees or disagrees with the political perspective of the students who are making the petition,” she concluded.

    Matt Lamb, Director of Campus Integrity for Turning Point USA, told Campus Reform that their organization is happy with the outcome.

    "TPUSA is pleased that Santa Clara has ultimately approved our club,” Lamb said. “We look forward to promoting free markets and free speech on the campus and will be planning great events and meetings for the Spring and many semesters to come."

    TPUSA-SCU President Caleb Alleva agreed, praising the Vice Provost for "wanting to make the university a place for freedom of ideas and treating all ideas equally."

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @amber_athey





    Amber Athey

    Amber Athey

    Investigative Reporter

    Amber Athey is an Investigative Reporter for Campus Reform. She graduated from Georgetown University with a B.A. in Government and Economics, and is currently a member of the 2016-2017 Koch Associate Program. 

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