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By Aidan Mattis
Professors at Santa Clara University have openly rejected the decision of the University Administration to override a previous decision by the Student Senate in a letter to The Santa Clara. Eighty-six professors signed the open letter, claiming that “We all agree that this was a decision that should have been made by students in accordance with their interpretation of the Constitution of the Associated Student Government. We write, therefore, to express our concern about the University administration’s interference with, and undermining of, student decision-making on the campus.”
The University acknowledged the accusation of overreach in the Vice Provost’s statement on the issue, asserting that “the university administration reserves the right to review such decisions, offer guidance on them, and even intervene when necessary if the educational values and mission of the university appear to be undermined.” By denying the request of the students wishing to start the chapter of Turning Point USA, the Student Senate had undermined these values.
The decision to decline the request for a Turning Point USA charter came in the wake of students calling the club a “direct threat”, with the supporting argument that the national organization had been mentioned in a PowerPoint presentation on white supremacist organizations.
The presentation was delivered the previous week by a staff advisor to the Senate. The presentation also cited groups and individuals such as “Identity Evropa” and Richard Spencer as white supremacists, though it did not directly call TPUSA a white supremacist organization. Turning Point USA makes no claims about race, nationality, or ethnicity in its mission statement or any of its training principles. Founder Charlie Kirk has disavowed any and all claims that TPUSA is related to white supremacy and/or the alt-right.
One Law professor, Stephen Diamond, commented that “Even if wrong, I believe the university administration should have respected the outcome.” He also believes the organization, which is pro-small government, should have respected the decision by SCU student government to limit free speech on campus.
The faculty further addressed the national chapter’s Professor Watchlist. The Watchlist is a database of professors known to be politically biased to an extent that is deemed dangerous to student well being. Professors included are thoroughly investigated and only added if there exist multiple, verifiable cases of extreme bias resulting in student harm or unfair grading.
The Vice Provost also stated that “we will not hold TPUSA-SCU responsible for all actions and activities of the national office or other TPUSA chapters.” David Warne, a Student Senator, explained that he had concerns regarding this, yet “the prospective TPUSA chapter would present itself to Senate as honestly as humanly possible: it would be a non-partisan platform to talk about the facets of economic conservatism.”
The “no” voting members of the Senate provided no evidence to support their claims about Turning Point USA being a “direct threat” to muslims, “against our humanity”, and that “[the lack of humanity] is something that every single Senator needs to take into consideration when it comes to voting…this is not right, this is not who we stand for as a whole university”.
Andy Hudlow, vice president of Santa Clara’s College Republicans, remarked in an op-ed to The Santa Clara that “Like any legislative body, ASG should have limits. In the same way that the Constitution serves as a check upon Congress’ effort to criminalize the burning of the American flag, SCU’s values and academic mission should prohibit ASG from denying TPUSA RSO status.”
The administration has stood by their decision, and the official recognition of the TPUSA chapter is expected to move forward.