Catholic University of America denies students’ request to launch Turning Point USA chapter
Mckenna Dallmeyer, Campus Reform
- CUA said the decision was based on the current composition of existing student organizations and clubs.
- One conservative student reported bullying connected with the chapter proposal to the university.
Administrators rejected a Catholic University of America student’s request to officially recognize the school’s Turning Point USA chapter.
Catholic University of America junior Kayla Maloney told Campus Reform that she wanted to “revive” the previously established Turning Point USA chapter; however, the university would not allow her to do so. As an alternative, she decided to “start fresh” and apply as a new student organization — a goal that she has now been pursuing for two years.
Maloney filled out a “proposal form” with the understanding that a university employee would reach out to her before the stated deadline to alert her of the application status.
In an email obtained by Campus Reform, Assistant Director for Student Organizations Mariah Raskin told Maloney that the university still has not reached a decision.
“I know you were supposed to hear about your New Student Org decision today, but it is still being discussed. I will inform you as soon as the decision is made,” Raskin explained.
Nine days later, Maloney sent a follow-up email asking about the status of her club’s approval. Raskin replied that the decision was “still being discussed.”
“I have been working on this club the whole time that I have been at CUA,” Maloney said in an email obtained by Campus Reform. “I have been bullied by students in person and online, but I have also found dozens of interested students in our organization, who have loved what we’ve accomplished so far but only wish that we are able to do the same things that other clubs on campus are able to do.”
Maloney offered to address any issues or concerns that administrators may have with the club.
“If I may, I would like to ask what is being discussed, or primarily the concerns which are hindering our ability to move forward, only because I would love to clear up loose ends or answer any questions which may be posed about our organization,” she continued. “This means a great deal to me and our growing membership, and in light of that we want you to know that we sincerely appreciate our ability to apply and your personal efforts to follow up with me and keep me updated.”
“I gave them every opportunity to let me clear up misconceptions because there are misconceptions about Turning Point after everything that happened January 6th and prior,” Maloney told Campus Reform.
Twenty days later, Maloney received an email stating that her “New Student Organization Proposal” was denied due to the presence of similarly aligned, pre-existing organizations on campus.
“After careful review we have decided to deny your request to start,” the email stated. “We believe that the existing organizations on our campus already fulfill the mission and goals of what a Turning Point chapter would provide and it’s important that we support our existing organizations before agreeing to start new ones.”
However, Maloney explained to Campus Reform that the TPUSA chapter “offers things that none of the clubs offer that are already on campus.”
Maloney said that the university said it “wishes to allocate resources to the already ‘existing organizations’ on campus, even though TPUSA offers many benefits to students that no other club does.”
“Failing to acknowledge this, I believe, is a mistake,” she added.
Andres Varona, the proposed CUA TPUSA vice president, told Campus Reform that there are indeed multiple “right wing” organizations on campus, but was nevertheless “confused” as to how organizations that are “pro-choice” are allowed on the Catholic campus.
Joe Frederick, the proposed CUA TPUSA secretary, told Campus Reform that “many clubs that are the same in concept” routinely exist on the university’s official roster — such as the Chinese Club and the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, as well as the American Conservation Coalition and the CUA Environmental Club. Furthermore, the school presently classifies twenty-eight clubs as service organizations.
“There seems to be some reason within the administration as to why our Turning Point chapter was rejected but all these other clubs are fine,” he continued.
Maloney said that funds for the chapter would be wholly provided by the national Turning Point organization instead of by the university.
“I believe that CUA has made the wrong decision in withholding approval of a TPUSA chapter because doing so not only limits the First Amendment right of dozens of interested students, but it also shows how the University has succumbed to the tensions of the political arena today,” Maloney told Campus Reform.
“CUA as of late has failed the many students interested in this organization, and in the freedoms of speech and expression,” she concluded.
When asked why CUA decided to deny the chapter’s recognition, Chief of Staff and Counselor to the CUA President Lawrence Morris told Campus Reform that “Turning Point was not approved for recognition because we have more interest in organizations than we can fairly offer to support. Denial this year is not a permanent denial but based on the current array of student organizations and the resources available to support them.”
Varona believes that “discourse” on a college campus is “enriching.” His “main gripe,” however, is that the university is “allowing pro-choice speakers and clubs that are against Bible teachings” but are not approving a club “whose founder regularly goes to church and talks a lot about the Bible and Christianity.”
If TPUSA were approved, student leadership would host a dialogue with left-leaning organizations “where the campus community ultimately ends up winning and gaining more knowledge,” Varona told Campus Reform.
“We do plan on fighting this decision on the administrative level as well as leveling our contacts within Turning Point itself to help us get established,” Frederick said.
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