Reversal: UWSP Will Recognize Turning Point USA

After being rejected by the Student Government Association after four hours of criticism from other student groups, Turning Point USA will be recognized as an official campus organization. UWSP Vice Chancellor for Student Affiars, Al Thompson, announced the reversal in a release:

The Student Government Association at UW-Stevens Point voted to deny Turning Point USA’s request to be recognized as a student organization at SGA’s weekly meeting on November 9.

 

I asked SGA to reconsider its action on November 16, based on UW-Stevens Point and UW System policies recognizing student organizations, SGA guidelines on viewpoint neutrality and a UW Board of Regents policy on academic expression. In the absence of further SGA action on November 16, I have determined that Turning Point USA meets the requirements to be recognized as a student organization at UW-Stevens Point.

 

UW-Stevens Point’s strategic plan outlines our mission, vision and values, which include valuing diversity and inclusivity. We define diversity as differences in background, identity, ability and more; includes race/ethnicity, gender role and identity, age, religion, political perspective, sexual orientation, nontraditional student, veteran, disability, chronic illness and socioeconomic status.

 

UW-Stevens Point is a teaching and learning institution, and this process has been a learning experience for all. As an institution that values diversity and the freedom to explore all ideas, even unpopular ones, UW-Stevens Point remains committed to a learning environment that respects multiple viewpoints and ensures discourse is civil and our campus is safe for all.

It appears from Thompson’s statement that SGA refused to change its decision, so he overrode their action. Thompson pointed to various university policies as the rationale for his decisions.  Several student groups argued for hours that TPUSA’s conservative worldview would cause fear among minority students. Amelia Heup. Chair of the UWSP College Republicans, called the reversal a victory for free speech.

From TPUSA’s website:

Turning Point USA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded on June 5, 2012 by Charlie Kirk. The organization’s mission is to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government.

 

Since the founding, Turning Point USA has embarked on a mission to build the most organized, active, and powerful conservative grassroots activist network on college campuses across the country. With a presence on over 1,000 college campuses and high schools across the country, Turning Point USA is the largest and fastest growing youth organization in America.

UPDATE: The UWSP College Republicans issued a statement on the reversal late today:

College Republicans of UW-Stevens Point Response to Student Government Association Recent Statement

STEVENS POINT- On Friday, November 17th, the Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs, Al Thompson reversed the decision of the Student Government Association (SGA) that denied Turning Point USA from forming an official student organization on the campus of UW-Stevens Point. We are pleased with the decision of the Vice-Chancellor to recognize Turning Point. Because of this decision, Turning Point will have access to the same resources that all other organizations have on campus. However, we are disappointed in the SGA for not resolving their earlier blatant violation of students’ first amendment rights. The SGA was given ample opportunity to reverse their decision and embrace the culture of diversity and inclusivity that the University attempts to foster – yet, they failed to do so.

 

Chairwoman, Amelia Heup, released a statement regarding the decision to reverse the denial of Turning Point on the campus of UW-Stevens Point:

 

“I, along with the College Republicans are pleased with the decision given by the office of Student Affairs to officially recognize Turning Point USA as a student organization on campus. This win for freedom of speech benefits both current and future students who attend this university. Unfortunately, this is a decision that should have been made earlier by the Student Government Association. I urge the SGA to recognize students’ right and the diversity of voices on this campus. A student’s rights do not end when entering a public university.

 

Thank you to Vice-Chancellor Thompson for recognizing this.” The UW-Stevens Point College Republicans will continue to stand up for the rights of all students to voice their viewpoints and contribute to the broader conversation. We also urge conservative students to get involved and apply to be in Student Government to guarantee representation for all ideologies.

The SGA also issued a statement on the reversal:

On November 9th, the Student Government Association at UW-Stevens Point voted to deny the approval of a student organization after nearly two hours of statements and questioning. As reflected in our meeting minutes, several requests from Senators to the student organization to separate themselves from their parent organization were denied. That decision was immediately sent for review to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Al Thompson. On November 16th , Al Thompson asked SGA to reconsider its action based on UW-Stevens Point and UW System policies recognizing student organizations, SGA guidelines on viewpoint neutrality, and a UW Board of Regents policy on academic expression. UW-Stevens Point Student Government Association did not take action at the November 16th General Assembly meeting. As of the date of this statement, Al Thompson determined that Turning Point USA at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point meets the requirements to be recognized as a student organization at UW-Stevens Point. He has notified both Turning Point USA at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point and Student Government Association of his decision. From President of the Student Body, Sean Piette, “The Student Government Association Senate voted with their conscience and with input from many of their constituents. This decision was overturned by Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Al Thompson on November 17th . We welcome Turning Point USA at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point as an officially recognized student organization on this campus.”