Worcester State University has reversed its previous decision to deny conservative students the ability to recruit members for a Turning Point USA (TPUSA) student group after calls by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) to end the school’s viewpoint discrimination.
Worcester State has agreed to allow TPUSA students to recruit members on campus after being unable to defend its viewpoint discrimination, according to a press release published by FIRE on Wednesday.
Worcester State’s counsel confirmed to FIRE that the TPUSA student group on campus now has most of the privileges of an official student organization.
The conservative group had been previously denied recognition by the school’s student government, whose members took issue with its conservative viewpoint and claimed that the group’s presence at the university could risk “negative impact on campus climate.”
FIRE, which has advocated on behalf of the TPUSA group at Worcester State since March, noted that the club does not yet have access to funding from student fees, but that this move is nonetheless a step in the right direction.
“This is a win for students’ free association rights at Worcester State,” said Katlyn Patton, program officer in FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program. “But students shouldn’t have to enlist the help of an outside organization for months simply to exercise their rights to form a political student group.”
“I encourage student government representatives across the country to take a good look at this case and think twice before denying a student group because they don’t agree with its political viewpoint,” added Patton.
Worcester State student and TPUSA member Anthony Winship, whose club was denied recognition at the school in March, also shared his thoughts on the matter, according to FIRE’s press release.
“We’re in a good spot,” said Winship. “We would not have agreed to a compromise if we didn’t think it would lead to full approval. We are excited to get a fair chance in front of the [student government] senate.”
“We don’t plan on stopping until we become official,” he added.
FIRE had sent a letter to Worcester State president Barry Maloney on March 16, reminding him of the university’s obligation to respect student free association rights, as the school is a public university.
The organization maintains that it will continue to monitor the situation “to ensure the student government uses a viewpoint-neutral approval process when TPUSA Worcester reapplies for recognition in the fall.”