Another TPUSA chapter gets canceled; Bethany College officials cite 'hate speech' and 'harassment'

Bethany College officials told students not to even "gather signatures in support of their petition because their application would not move forward."

The Southeastern Legal Foundation is demanding a just process and defended Turning Point USA against charges of racism.

Bethany College in West Virginia stopped students from founding a Turning Point USA chapter on its campus, according to a letter shared with Campus Reform. 

Written by the Southeastern Legal Foundation General Counsel Kim Hermann and sent to Bethany College Vice President for Student Life Gerald Stebbins, the letter accuses college officials of violating its commitment to uphold “free and unfettered discussion of the widest possible nature” by refusing to recognize TPUSA as a school club because it has been “affiliated with hate speech groups.” 

Bethany College officials, the letter continued, told the students undergoing the process to found their club “not to gather signatures in support of their petition because their application would not move forward.”

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“Bethany College has not only denied the students the opportunity to form a club,” the Southeastern Legal Foundation wrote, “but it has even denied the opportunity to garner interest for the club.” 

The letter also defended TPUSA against charges that it’s racist.

“TPUSA overwhelmingly denounces views and groups that espouse hateful rhetoric. And even if the organization did not denounce hate speech, one of the bedrock principles of the freedom of an openness to all points of view, even the most odious and offensive remarks.”

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Also, according to SLF, Bethany College based its decision on its belief that TPUSA’s Professor Watchlist is a form of harassment, a claim the SLF said “mischaracterizes harassment.”

”TPUSA’s Professor Watchlist is built on already-published, credible news stories about professors,” SLF continued, “TPUSA is careful to ensure that it supports every claim against professors with evidence,” adding that “not a single Bethany College professor is on the Watchlist.” 

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The SLF is demanding that the college grant its students a fair process, calling for Bethany College to “either...remove the language in its policies ensuring the freedom of expression and clarifies that it will only give a platform to certain views on campus, or...permit the [students] to move forward with their organization, allowing open discourse to guide the student body in the pursuit of truth.” 

As Campus Reform reported on March 16, Turning Point USA forcefully defended itself against similar charges of racism after a professor at Montana Tech University accused it of “affiliating with racist and neo-Nazi and other alt-right groups.” TPUSA said the professor’s remarks were highly “defamatory and wildly inaccurate.”

A spokesperson for Bethany College did not comment in time for this publication. 

Follow the author of this article: Dion J. Pierre