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Q&A on Recent RSO Decision

Answers to questions regarding a student petition to establish a Registered Student Organization

 Over the past month, a student petition to establish a local chapter of Turning Point USA has led to a series of conversations on campus. Information regarding the status of the local chapter of Turning Point USA can be found here. Further answers to common questions are available below.

 

Why did Santa Clara University allow a Turning Point USA (TPUSA-SCU) chapter on campus?

Santa Clara’s commitment to free speech, freedom of association, and the free exchange of ideas for the purpose of developing knowledge and pursuing truth is a cornerstone of our community. The members of TPUSA-SCU are entitled to express openly their views and opinions consistent with the organization’s stated mission “to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government.”

 

By what authority did the University reverse the Associated Student Government’s decision to deny RSO recognition to TPUSA-SCU?  

The University has delegated responsibility for registration of student organizations to the ASG Student Senate and allows it the greatest possible discretion in making these judgements.

 

However, the Vice Provost for Student Life maintains authority in these matters and, as articulated in the Student Handbook, the University administration reserves the right to review such decisions, offer guidance on them and even intervene when necessary if the educational values and mission of the University appear to be undermined.

 

On Feb 27, TPUSA-SCU submitted a challenge to the Vice Provost for Student Life citing various concerns with the ASG process.

 

Following a comprehensive review of available information, with the interest of upholding SCU’s educational mission and values, the Vice Provost for Student Life decided to recognize TPUSA-SCU as a Registered Student Organization for the remainder of the 2016-17 academic year. Like all Registered Student Organizations, TPUSA-SCU will need to follow the appropriate procedures for renewing its registration in all subsequent years.

 

Does Santa Clara University endorse the national TPUSA organization,?

Santa Clara University’s approval of a local chapter of TPUSA-SCU is not an endorsement of the national organization. Consistent with SCU’s treatment of other Registered Student Organizations that are affiliated with a national organization, SCU will not hold TPUSA-SCU responsible for the actions and activities of the national office or other local TPUSA chapters.

 

The TPUSA-SCU chapter will be held accountable for adhering to its stated constitution and following the rules and regulations of Santa Clara University, the Associated Student Government, and Registered Student Organizations.

 

Does the administration think the Associated Student Government (ASG) acted inappropriately?

The administration supports the processes that the Student Senate and Student Court employed in considering TPUSA-SCU’s application to be recognized as a Registered Student Organization.

TPUSA-SCU exercised its right to challenge the decision following the completion of the ASG process. The Vice Provost for Student Life has carefully reviewed each of the concerns that the Student Senate expressed and has determined that they do not offset TPUSA-SCU’s rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

 

Can students appeal the University’s decision?

No.

 

How does TPUSA-SCU align with the educational and Jesuit Mission of Santa Clara University ?

Santa Clara University’s commitment to freedom of speech, freedom of association, and the free exchange of ideas for the purpose of developing knowledge and pursuing truth is a cornerstone of our university community. The members of TPUSA-SCU are entitled to express openly their views and opinions consistent with the organization’s stated mission “to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government.” The decision to grant Registered Student Organization recognition to TPUSA-SCU cannot be based on whether one agrees or disagrees with the political perspective of the students who are making the petition.  

 

Does Santa Clara support the Professor Watchlist, which is supported by TPUSA?

Santa Clara University does not endorse the Professor Watchlist, a project of the national TPUSA organization, nor does the University have any control over the existence of the Watch List.

 

Do other Jesuit Catholic universities have TPUSA chapters on campus?

Creighton University and Georgetown University have recently approved local Turning Point USA chapters on their campuses.

 

Has the administration ever reversed a Student Senate decision to either recognize or deny a registered student organization?

Not that we know of.

 

Did the publicity over the decision made by the Associated Student Government play a part in this decision?

No. The administration’s decision to recognize TPUSA-SCU as a Registered Student Organization, in response to the petitioner’s challenge, was based on SCU’s institutional values, principles, and policies.

 

How common is it for the Student Senate to vote to reject an application for a group to become a Registered Student Organization?

It varies from year to year.

 

Has the Student Senate approved any other conservative organizations in recent years?

Yes, the College Republicans and the Young Americans for Liberty were both approved by Student Senate. Both of these clubs actively supported the approval of TPUSA-SCU.

 

Background

Santa Clara University has robust Associated Student Government, which includes the democratically elected Student Senate. Twenty senators are elected by their class, five for each class, while eight are appointed by the chair of the senate.

 

On Thursday, February 2, each of the present senators voted on the proposal to recognize a local chapter of Turning Point USA (TPUSA-SCU). After an hour of mediated debate and deliberation, the Senate voted 10 in favor and 16 opposed.

 

The TPUSA- SCU student petitioners exercised their right to appeal the Senate’s decision to the Student Court. On February 17, 2017, the Student Court ruled that the Student Senate did not violate Associated Student Government bylaws as it conducted its deliberation and vote. The Student Court upheld the Student Senate’s decision to deny recognition to TPUSA-SCU as a Registered Student Organization.

The Student Handbook allows anyone to present disputes, challenges, and exceptions to the registration process to the Vice Provost for Student Life.