‘They are against free speech’: Baylor, TCU refuse to recognize Turning Point USA chapters
Mary Margaret Olohan on April 22, 2020
Two Christian Texas academic institutions have denied students the opportunity to begin Turning Point USA chapters.
Texas Christian University and Baylor University have each refused to recognize Turning Point USA (TPUSA) chapters, TPUSA field enterprise director Andrew Sypher told the Daily Caller News Foundation. Both academic institutions cited the presence of other conservative organizations on campus as part of their rationale.
“Both our students at Baylor and TCU have been surprised because they’d say that the majority of the student population is conservative-leaning or libertarian-leaning,” Sypher said. “That’s one of the motivations and reasons that they went to those schools. It’s where they can feel safe in their beliefs and expressing their viewpoints. And so the fact that their university’s telling them that they cannot express themselves freely on campus is what’s most alarming.”
Baylor University already has three “very active” conservative student organizations, Baylor assistant vice president of Media and Public Relations Lori Fogleman told the DCNF: Baylor College Republicans, Baylor Young Americans for Freedom and Baylor Young Conservatives of Texas.
Fogleman did not respond to further requests for comment as to why this would prevent a TPUSA chapter from forming.
TCU has not responded to the DCNF’s requests for comment as to why the chapter was denied, but an April 13 letter from TCU Student Organizations Director Dede Williams Vann shows that the university denied TPUSA’s application because it “did not meet a broadly recognized need that is not currently being met by other similar organizations on campus.”
Vann also said that the chapter lacked the “structural elements to sustain this organization in future years” and that the chapter had violated TCU policies by listing the TCU chapter on TPUSA’s website before the chapter was recognized.
Students at TCU are excited to be a part of TPUSA and still want to bring the organization to campus, TCU chapter president Lauren McCoy told the DCNF.
“It’s important to give a space to like-minded students, a place where they feel welcomed and a place where they feel empowered to exercise their first amendment right of free speech,” McCoy said.
She pointed out that TCU promotes the idea of a “diverse and inclusive student environment to ensure the students have an excellent, well-rounded education.”
“Yet, TCU has denied the TPUSA chapter that would promote those same ideals,” McCoy said. “TPUSA would only benefit the educational environment of TCU’s campus as students have a chance to listen to incredible speakers and connect with other students who believe in the principals of limited government, capitalism and freedom.”
Baylor University chapter president Oliver Mintz also described Baylor’s decision as “very troubling.”
“It has been very unsettling to not even have the satisfaction of knowing why we were denied,” Mintz said. “There has been no consistency whatsoever with Baylor Student Activities. They’re really showing their true colors with this decision — that they are against free speech and against conservative values being presented on campus.”
Despite the setback, Mintz said “everyone involved is very motivated and willing to fight for what we believe in,” and that he is confident they will have a chartered student organization at Baylor.
The universities are treating TPUSA as if it were “one and the same” as other conservative groups, Sypher said.
“We’re not,” he said. “Each and every organization, we all work together, but we all have different focuses on campus and when this many students are interested in starting a Turning Point chapter on campus, it shows that we’re not just another duplicate — that we also have something to serve that students want to be a part of.”
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