Controversy was created at the most recent Wartburg College Student Senate meeting when Turning Point USA was denied their request to become a student organization.
Administrative Ombudsperson Amanda Guertler said the group was originally denied by Student Relations Committee (SRC), but they were allowed to make changes to their constitution. The changes included a protection clause because SRC felt the Turning Point USA national organization did not reflect the values shown in the Wartburg mission statement, including professor watch lists and their social media posts.
After changes were made, SRC amended their resolution to a recommendation for approval, but the group was denied in the full Senate vote. Would-be president of the organization Emily Russell said she believes the group was denied because of bias shown by Student Senate.
“Before the vote in full Senate, we were asked many politically-charged questions, which we believe made a lot of student senators unsure about the group,” Russell said.
According to Russell, Turning Point USA is a non-partisan organization that focuses solely on economic issues and promotes free market and limited government.
Russell also said she was disappointed in the vote because many of the senators abstained from the vote, including members from SRC.
Guertler was one of those senators, but said she chose to abstain because she felt she had become too close to the situation.
Only five members from full senate voted in favor of approving the organization.
Student body president Naomi Alene said there was no specific reason the group was denied because the vote came down to each individual senator’s decision.
“When you become a senator, when you’re getting sworn in, you say that you vote pretty much representing your constituency,” Alene said. “I’m sure everybody has their own reasoning behind why they voted the way they voted.”
The fact that the group has conservative views was not a reason for the denial, Alene said.
“We have approved organizations that were leaning more towards one party than another, so the problem was never the way they were leaning,” Alene said. “I think if students ever did bring up the fact that they, or the thought, that they are partisan it is because they are claiming to be non-partisan as in they don’t support any candidates, but they have partisan policies that they support.”
Russell said the idea to start the chapter at Wartburg came after she and Haley Cannon attended a Young Women’s Leadership Summit over the summer. They were inspired and wanted to bring the group to Wartburg.
Russell said they still intend to try to become a student organization and are not willing to give up on Turning Point USA yet.
“We don’t want this to be a political issue. We just want to provide a place at Wartburg to challenge different viewpoints in civil discourse and dialogue and we feel that Wartburg Student Senate let their peers down by eliminating the possibility for this valuable opportunity,” Russell said.
For more information on the voting, Alene and Guertler said people can talk to their senators or check the official minutes from the meeting.
“Talk to your senators and ask them why they voted they way they did,” Guertler said.