UPDATE: FIRE demands student government implement 'viewpoint neutrality' after rejecting conservative group
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression wrote to Lindenwood University demanding it ensure its student government operates in a viewpoint-neutral manner.
The student government refused to approve a TPUSA chapter earlier this semester.
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) are backing Lindenwood University (LU) students' attempt to start a conservative group on campus after it was rejected by the student government earlier this semester.
FIRE wrote in its Nov. 4 letter to the Missouri university that it has a responsibility to ensure that its student government operates in a viewpoint-neutral manner.
“The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to defending freedom of speech, is concerned by the Lindenwood University student government’s decision to deny recognition to a Turning Point USA chapter, seemingly over objections to the group’s perceived viewpoint,” the letter read.
Campus Reform previously reported that the group was rejected by majority vote after the group’s President, Cullen Dittmar, gave a presentation outlining the purpose of the group. An LU student who requested to remain anonymous alleged the vote was rooted in bias.
“The possibility that may object to TPUSA’s recognition, even vehemently so, is not a valid reason to prevent recognition; instead, it is precisely what LU anticipates when it promises students freedom of expression,” the letter continued. “As such, disagreement with a student organization’s perceived viewpoint is not a legitimate basis for denying recognition.”
FIRE Program Officer Sabrina Conza told Campus Reform that “universities like [LU] which promise students expressive rights must live up to those promises.”
“By allowing its student government to deny [TPUSA] recognition based on potential controversy that may come from the group’s recognition, [LU] is violating the clear promises it makes to students that they enjoy free speech and association,” she said. “[LU] must ensure that its student government is not discriminating on groups based on viewpoint when granting recognition.”
TPUSA, Lindenwood, and LU SGA were all contacted for comment. The article will be updated accordingly.