Drake University has denied recognizing conservative group Turning Point USA as an official student group on campus, while approving a communist student group called Drake Comrades as worthy of official recognition by the school.
Turning Point USA was denied official recognition by Drake University after a vote held in a student senate meeting on Thursday. Meanwhile, the university has recently approved the “Drake Comrades,” which is “a communist and anarchist group” on campus, according to Drake’s student newspaper, the Times-Delphic.
After allowing TPUSA members to make their case for why their group should be officially recognized on campus, the meeting went into “executive session,” meaning that the vote on TPUSA’s official status would be held privately.
Before the vote, however, a separate student group, National Association for Music Education, was publicly voted on and approved at the meeting. The conservative students told Breitbart News that they were not given an explanation as to why the vote regarding TPUSA was done privately.
The students added that prior to the private portion of the meeting, members of the communist “Drake Comrades” arrived to hand out anti-TPUSA propaganda, as well as a petition allegedly containing the names of 300 students who did not want to see TPUSA become an officially recognized group on campus.
You’re goddamn right we did. https://t.co/Ce5nHwylrM
— Drake Comrades (@DrakeComrades) November 1, 2019
Audio obtained by Breitbart News revealed that Drake Comrades members then refused to leave the room for the private portion, forcing the meeting to be moved to another building on campus.
When the meeting adjourned after the vote, the TPUSA members were informed that their group’s official status had been denied. The conservative students say they were not given an explanation as to why this decision was made.
“I feel like it’s just hypocrisy of the left,” said Drake University’s TPUSA social media chair Katie Moon to Breitbart News, “as soon as someone doesn’t agree with them politically, they’re degrading and go on the attack, claiming that they’re the ones being attacked.”
“There were some senators that said they would feel unsafe if Turning Point USA became a registered student organization,” added Moon. “What they don’t know is that conservative students feel unsafe speaking their opinions — it took me two and a half to three years at Drake to feel comfortable telling people that I’m conservative. In no way is that fair.”
On Friday, Drake University’s College Republicans group issued a statement on its Facebook page regarding the denial of the TPUSA group.
“Drake University’s Student Senate has shown, again, that Drake University is not, ‘Where politics come alive,’ but rather the place where basic principles are denied,” said the College Republicans in its statement, adding that the student government prefers to “shield students from hearing right-of-center viewpoints.”
“They even brought it into a closed door session, where students cannot hold their elected representatives accountable,” the statement continued, adding that the College Republicans hope to see Drake University’s administration “rally behind their principles” of providing “an exceptional learning experience” for students on campus.
While many universities allow their student senates to have a certain degree of autonomy by making these types of decisions, school administrators have also been known to intervene and override resolutions that may involve student government members exuding their personal political biases through the decisions that they make regarding their conservative peers.
Earlier this year at Texas State University, for example, the university president reiterated the importance of free speech in a statement elaborating on why student senators would not be given the power to effectively ban the school’s TPUSA group from campus, despite the student government voting to do so.
Conservative students — just as their left-of-center peers — pay student activity fees through their tuition. Thus, many would argue that conservative students are not afforded the same experience as their liberal peers — despite paying into the same extracurricular activity programs — when they are denied the ability to function as officially recognized groups on campus.
Breitbart News reached out to Drake University for comment on whether university administrators expect to override the student senate’s decision.
On the evening of Oct. 31, 2019, Drake Student Senate voted 12–6 to not recognize the Drake chapter of Turning Point USA as an official student group. The Student Senate has full authority to review and approve or decline student organizations, as part of the campus-wide shared governance model at Drake, and independent of the University’s administration.
Without recognized status, the organization is not able to use the name “Drake” or “Drake University” in its title, reserve space on campus, use Drake’s tax-exempt status when conducting business, or utilize resources in the Student Life Center.
The Dean of Students Office will continue advocating for a Drake campus that welcomes and encourages divergent views using the University’s Statement of Principles as a guidepost.
The university added that advocating for a “campus that welcomes and encourages divergent views” would include the school encouraging the student senators “to reflect” on their decision.
“This advocacy will include helping Student Senate reflect on its stated commitment to shape a campus ‘that is personally, politically, and culturally engaged; proactive in creating a healthier climate for mind and body; transparent and responsive in its actions; and representative of all Drake University students,'” said the university spokesperson.
“Drake University is committed to an open and productive exchange of ideas, allowing free and informed discussion of political affairs,” the spokesperson added. “Currently recognized student groups include: College Republicans, Drake Comrades, Drake Democrats, Roosevelt Institute at Drake University, and Young Americans for Freedom.”