Students are expressing their concerns after the Wichita State Student Supreme Court decided this week to overturn the Student Senate’s decision to not recognize a libertarian organization.
Students seeking to establish a chapter of the Young American’s for Liberty group at Wichita State University were denied by the Student Senate earlier this month. Student Senators cited concerns that the group’s ideas and practices were “dangerous.”
On Wednesday, the Wichita State Student Supreme Court overturned the Student Senate’s decision, citing a statute in the student government’s constitution that claims that no student organization can be denied recognition of the basis of the group’s political affiliation.
The Court decided that the decision made by the student senate was indeed unconstitutional. In my opinion, the most obvious sections violated were Article III, Clause 2 of the Student Bill of Rights, which states “Affiliation with an extramural organization itself does not disqualify a student organization from institutional recognition” and Article III, Section 1, Article 1.2, which states “The Association shall not discriminate in its resources, programming, or services on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, marital status, political affiliation, status as a veteran, or disability.” The latter article is the piece of the Legislative Journal that the Court unanimously voted to explicitly rule that the Senate violated.
The case was brought to the student court by Vice President for Student Affairs Teri Hall, who argued that in not recognizing the student organization, the senators discriminated against the students on the basis of their beliefs. “By not passing that resolution, you violated everything you’re supposed to stand for as Student Government,” Hall said at SGA’s Senate meeting. “You talk about not discriminating, and you discriminated against them.”
Student Senator Debbie Ojeda maintained her opposition to the club’s recognition, citing concerns that the group may invite popular “alt-right” speakers to campus.
“If there’s a speaker who is ‘alt-right’ and they start talking about white supremacy or are queerphobic or transphobic, what are our rights there and how do we prevent that from happening?” Sen. Debbie Ojeda asked.
“There are speakers that we bring to campus all the time that other folks may not want us to bring,” Hall countered. “It may not be as controversial as what you’re talking about, but universities are built on freedom of expression and freedom of speech.
To quell concerns that the group had an anti-LGBTQ stance before the court hearing, Student Senator Paul Raymond attended one of the club’s meetings. At the hearing, he informed those in attendance that two of the six members of the club are members of the LGBTQ community.
“Not to mitigate the concerns about discrimination against the LGBTQ community, but two of the six members of the group are part of that community and hopefully their intentions are not to undermine their own identities for the sake of an agenda,” Raymond said.
Ojeda fired back, arguing that an individual’s sexual orientation doesn’t make him incapable of hatred. “I don’t think that a member’s sexual orientation is a predictor of whether or not this group stands for hate,” Ojeda said.
To celebrate their official recognition, the Young Americans for Liberty at Wichita State plan on setting up a table on campus to educate students about the United States tax code.
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about economics and higher education for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org