Drake student gov. rejects conservative club for ‘harmful’ views

The Drake University Student Senate voted overwhelmingly last week against recognizing a new conservative student group after several senators objected to the organization’s political views.

According to minutes from the Senate’s April 21 meeting, opponents gave several reasons for rejecting the application to establish a Turning Point USA (TPUSA) chapter on campus—from claiming that its mission is too specific to arguing that Drake already has other conservative clubs—but expressed particular concern about the group’s views on social issues.

Senator Kevin Kane, for instance, said he could not justify approving TPUSA because of its “hateful record,” claiming that some of its tweets “directly relate to social issues.”

Senator Linley Sanders also took issue with the group’s social media activity, saying she “does not support some things concerning social issues on their Facebook page.” She denied that her opposition was based on TPUSA “being conservative” in general, however, saying she was merely worried that “the organization may be against specific groups[,] which could be perceived as condescending.”

Hypeline reports that a third senator, Olivia O’Hea, even criticized the prospective student group for pro-life tweets sent from the personal Twitter account of TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk, contrasting O’Hea’s argument with posts from her own Facebook page (which are no longer public) declaring her support for Planned Parenthood.

A few senators did dissent from the prevailing view, notably Senator Jon Lueth and Vice President Zachary Blevin, both of whom pledged to set aside their personal political beliefs and support the club in the interest of promoting free expression, but according to KCCI, the final tally was a lopsided 15-3 against recognizing TPUSA.

Amy Samuel, one of the students involved in the TPUSA effort, told The Des Moines Register that she and a regional director for the national organization have a meeting scheduled with university officials this week to discuss their grievances over the vote, saying, “the way some members of the senate have promoted their political views has made me a little concerned about what the future could be for the approval of our organization.”

Associate Dean Jerry Parker indicated to Hypeline that he does not believe the student senators violated any rules by introducing their personal political beliefs into the debate, but observed in a separate statement to The Des Moines Register that the TPUSA students would be able to go through the approval process again once newly-elected senators take their seats at the start of the next academic year.

Interestingly, the Vision Statement adopted by the current crop of senators declares: “In an effort to create meaningful and relevant change at Drake University, we, as student advocates and allies, strive to build a campus and a Student Senate that is more: 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.”

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