Student gov denies conservative group AGAIN, citing 'emotional harm'
The student government of Santa Clara University (SCU) voted to deny the campus chapter of Young Americans for Freedom from receiving official recognition for a second time, with senators harping on "emotional harm" and a lack of safety for minority students that the group could cause or create.
Campus Reform previously reported on the first voting, which resolved to deny Registered Student Organization (RSO) status to the group in late April. The second voting took place May 23 and finished with a tally of 13–13, falling short of the needed two-thirds supermajority to grant YAF RSO status, according to YAF and The College Fix.
"One of your focus is no threats or direct physical harm, but you do have a history of physical harm towards the LGBTQ+ community," SCU student senator Raul Orellana told the group, according to meeting minutes obtained by Campus Reform.
Orellana read a statement he said a student shared with him, suggesting that the statement reflected his own vote on the group.
“'The presence of YAF would further marginalize minority students on campus and if anything makes minority students feel more unsafe or targeted [sic],'” Orellana read from the statement. “'What struck me, as a woman who is often labeled as an immigrant by white people, even though I was born here, is sharing inspiring stories with legal immigrants, which is very high on the initiatives list. First of all, no human is legal on stolen land…this club would not make me too safe at SCU and not proud to call myself a Bronco.'”
Another student senator commented on conservative author Ben Shapiro, a speaker that YAF groups have shown interest in bringing to their campuses.
“The top underlining speaker that YAF wants to attract is Ben Shapiro,” Hiwad Haider said. “I’m a Muslim student….Ben Shapiro is probably one of the most Islamophobic people. If they bring him to campus, I don’t want to go here anymore.”
Haider suggested that Shapiro's speech caused "emotional harm."
Some of the senators, however, stood in defense of the conservative student group.
“How we vote tonight will have an impact on conservative students on campus, what that says to them about having free speech on campus,” student senator Rory Pannkuk said.
“I feel like we are doing a disservice to our student body if we are removing this voice,” student senator Nina Molanphy said. “They have a right to be here.”
The free speech nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) called for the university to step in to ensure that the student government does not exceed its authority and to “uphold the university's laudable commitment to freedom of expression.”
SCU student government senate chair Alex Perlman listed the requirements groups must meet to become RSOs, including not significantly overlapping with the purpose of another club, following federal, state, and school policies, and garnering the interest of at least 15 students.
YAF claims that it has met all of these requirements.
This is not the first time that the SCU student government has tried to deny recognition of a conservative student group. In 2017, a chapter of Turning Point USA was also denied, but the university administration overruled the decision and allowed the club, Campus Reform reported.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @ethanycai