Student gov reportedly tries to defund conservative group, gets a constitutional lesson instead
The University of Oklahoma allegedly told its own student government association that it cannot discriminate against conservative student organizations because doing so would be unconstitutional.
The university president allegedly said he would overturn the decision if the student government tried.
The University of Oklahoma allegedly told its Student Government Association members that they could not discriminate against conservative student organizations because doing so would be considered unconstitutional.
The Southeastern Legal Foundation sent a letter to the university's Student Government Association regarding its alleged possible attempts to punish a student organization, Turning Point USA. However, the University of Oklahoma reportedly stepped in and told the SGA that it could not discriminate against conservative organizations and that if it tried, the university president would override the decision. The threats by the SGA were made in response to the school's TPUSA chapter inviting Ann Coulter to speak on campus.
In a November 6 letter to the OU SGA, the SLF alleges that multiple SGA members, in a “non-SGA affiliated" group chat, discussed how they could "remove TPUSA from campus based on that group’s views."
"In the discussions, members of SGA plotted to defund TPUSA because they disagree with its views, including its decision to bring Coulter to campus," the letter alleges.
When one student in the chat allegedly pointed out that the SGA could not do this because it would violate its own code, some contemplated changing the code in a manner that would allow them to defund the TPUSA organization at OU.
"Members of SGA plotted to defund TPUSA because they disagree with its views, including its decision to bring Coulter to campus. When one student pointed out they could not do so because the SGA code does not allow it, other members threatened to change the code altogether—in other words, create new precedent that would revoke funding from groups who bring 'bigots' to campus," the letter states.
To this end, the SLF states that the OU SGA cannot withhold student organization funding based on viewpoints, and says it would be "plainly unconstitutional" to do so.
"Unfortunately for SGA, the United States Supreme Court has already spoken on this. It has held that it is plainly unconstitutional to hold student organization funds captive based on the organization’s views, the content of its speech, or the groups it is affiliated with," the letter continued.
After sending the letter, the University of Oklahoma responded, saying that the SGA does not have the authority to pass resolutions that are unconstitutional, the group stated in the press release.
"In response to SLF’s letter last week, the University admitted that SGA lacks authority to pass unconstitutional resolutions. If SGA tries to do so, the resolutions will be vetoed by the University President," the press release states.
A spokesperson from the University of Oklahoma told Campus Reform that the university supports the First Amendment, but did not address the allegations leveled against the Student Government Association.
The First Amendment generally prohibits the University of Oklahoma, as a public institution, from banning or punishing expression based on content or viewpoint.
Campus Reform reached out to the OU SGA, the OU TPUSA chapter, and SLF, but did not receive a response.
Follow the author of this article: John Hanson