Republican woman barred from Women's Conference over her 'values'

The president of the University of California, Irvine College Republicans was denied access to the UC Women’s Caucus Leadership Conference because she wasn’t there for “the right reasons.”

The conference is hosted jointly by the Associated Students of UCI and Associated Graduate Students, and is described as “a political coalition that serves to represent the gender needs and interests of women, trans individuals, and allies across the UC system” by exploring topics such as “women in politics,” “erasing the glass ceiling effect in the workplace,” “health relationships/domestic violence,” and more.

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Registration was offered to interested students free of charge, and CR President Ariana Rowlands felt it was important for her to attend, given her status as the only female leader of a political organization on campus.

In a video obtained by Campus Reform, Rowlands is seen attempting to obtain a name badge so she can attend the event. When Rowlands requests one from student government President Tracy La, who is passing out the name badges, La declines her request, prompting Rowlands to point out that a friend, who does not attend UC Irvine and did not register for the event, received a name badge just before Rowlands requested one.

“Actually, didn’t you send in a workshop proposal?” La asks.

“Yeah, I did,” Rowlands replies.

“We rejected you, so you’re going to try to come back right now as an attendee?”

“Yeah,” Rowlands answers, once again protesting that her friend was allowed access to the conference while she was denied.

“So the difference between you and her is that you tried to register for this conference as a workshop presenter, and you got rejected, and so you obviously aren’t here for the reasons why I assumed she was and so I know you personally, Ariana.” La attempts to clarify. “We have worked together before, and I know you’re trying to post this on Facebook, but that’s not going to work. I know why you’re here and I know that you’re not here for the right reasons that we would like our attendees to be.”

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“I would like to have a discussion with people and you are preventing me from having a discussion,” Rowlands objects, but La continues to refuse her access and instead offers her snacks.

“You are preventing me from registering for this women’s conference, when the point of this that women and politics is one of the main points,” Rowlands reminds La. “I am the only female leader of a political club on campus, and you gave somebody else who you don’t even know a ticket, and you wouldn’t give me one.”

“But I know you,” La retorts, “and I know why you’re here, so I know you’re trying to be all sneaky right now, but it’s not going to work.”

Rowlands then accuses La of refusing to admit her simply because Rowlands is a well-known Republican, but La insists that her beef with Rowlands is purely personal.

“I know you, and I know why you want to be here,” La reiterates. “Any other Republican can come and stay; they’re welcome to be here.”

“So it’s me specifically? You don’t like my type of Republicanism?” Rowlands asks.

“I don’t like the person you are, and I don’t like the values that you have,” La admits. “I have a lot of Republican friends and I know you’re not a good person, so that’s why I don’t want you to be here.”

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“I am the only woman President of a political club on campus, and I wasn't even made aware the event was happening,” Rowlands told Campus Reform. “I found out through a friend telling me it was going on.”

Upon learning of the event, Rowlands proposed that it include a workshop on women in politics, one of the main focuses of the event, but her proposal was rejected by conference organizers.

“I had a suspicion that it was because I was a Republican, but couldn't prove it,” Rowlands said. “Admittedly I did not spend an incredible amount of effort on the proposal, but the climate and harshness with which I have been treated by the Associated Students at UCI made me suspicious as to the true reasons behind my rejection.”

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Rowlands’ friend who did receive a name badge, Taylor Spring, told Campus Reform that she specifically requested permission from La to attend the event, and was allowed in despite the fact that no more space was available.

“She said they were technically sold out, but if I could email her she would put my name on the name tag,” Spring recounted. “She said I could hang out for the day until I got my name on the list and could attend the whole conference.”

According to the student government website, students pay a $54 annual fee to fund events put on by student organizations.

La defended her decision to bar Rowlands from participating in the conference, telling Campus Reform that Rowlands had effectively disqualified herself by posting opinions on social media that conflict with those of event organizers.

Quoting from the Women’s Caucus Facebook page, La pointed out that “members must be affiliated with the University of California and include current undergraduate and graduate students from all the campuses, as well as alumni, faculty, staff, and political leaders who share UCWC’s vision,” which she interpreted as a mandate that members must ascribe to the organization’s philosophy, rather than a description of typical members.

“A simple review of Ariana Rowlands’ public Facebook page will bring you to a recent photo she uploaded in which she states, ‘there's (sic) only two genders,’” La asserted indignantly. “This alone can disqualify her from being accepted as a member of our school's delegation, which must value and recognize the identity of trans individuals, to the conference.”

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“Her strong beliefs about gender identity shows that she does not share UCWC's vision, hence her being denied to attend as a delegate,” La continued. “However, she was still invited to attend some of our events from the conference and I invited her to eat some of the conference food.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @kassydillon