Student senate quashes conservative group for its political views

Student senate members at Drake University in Iowa have quashed plans by a nationwide conservative organization that serves students on a multitude of campuses to establish a presence there.

It’s because of the organization’s conservative views.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education reports that the student legislators “voted against the group for what they deemed its ‘harmful’ conservative beliefs.”

That makes it three unsuccessful attempts over six years for Turning Point USA to establish itself as a recognized organization at Drake.

“Why are student senators determining which beliefs are too ‘harmful’ to allow on campus?” wondered FIRE Program Officer Sabrina Conza. “These students were elected to the student senate, not the thought police. They represent the entire student body, not just the students whose beliefs make them feel warm and fuzzy.”

The organization has been active on the campus, but it has not been a registered student group and therefore has not been allowed to participate fully as have other groups.

For example, groups that are not registered “cannot reserve event space on campus, apply for funding, or open financial accounts on campus,” the FIRE said.

The result is that the senators are refusing to allow TPUSA to “meaningfully” participate in the campus.

“It’s truly disappointing,” Drake TPUSA member Andie Morrissey said in a statement released by FIRE. “A university that prides itself on being inclusive can’t seem to understand that being inclusive involves including those you disagree with.”

TPUSA previously sought recognition in 2016 and 2019.

“On March 24, TPUSA members attempted to gain recognition for the third time. A video of the student senate hearing shows student senators discussing TPUSA’s application and giving reasons for their decision to vote against TPUSA. One senator said, ‘I think everyone has a right to their beliefs, but I do think there is a point where those beliefs do become harmful to others,'” the foundation report explained.

One other senator claimed TPUSA was making people uncomfortable and frightened, but the FIRE confirmed the chapter “has no record of any disciplinary misconduct and has not threatened anyone.”

The report explained, “Drake violates its own commitment to students’ rights when it allows the student senate to discriminate against a student group based on its viewpoint. Drake’s Community, Diversity, and Freedom of Expression policy states that the school ‘carefully refrains from restricting the exchange of ideas or regulating the content of speech’ and ‘cherish[es] and defend[s] freedom of speech to the full extent protected by the First Amendment.'”

FIRE’s letter to Drake calls on the school to honors its commitment to students by granting recognition to the student organization.

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