Drake Students Speak Out After Conservative Club Denied Recognition

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Drake University students are speaking out after their request to the Drake Student Senate to recognize a conservative student organization was denied.

Drake students said they wanted to start an official Turning Point USA chapter at Drake.

The co-presidents of Drake College Republicans said the application to make the Drake chapter of Turning Point USA a recognized student organization was turned down in a closed door session without reason.

“When you have a far left-leaning group like Drake Comrades and we have student senators who are unwilling to hear the perspectives of conservative students, that really uproots what a college institution should be about. It should be about a discussion of ideas and about having different viewpoints and a diversity of viewpoints available,” Drake College Republicans Co-President John Altendorf said.

Drake College Republicans Co-President Riley Swanson said having a Turning Point USA chapter at Drake would provide a new space for students with conservative views.

Nationally, Turning Point USA claims they promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government.

“I think that conservative students feel that there’s a lack of space for them to be open and express their opinions. I think that Turning Point would have offered another outlet. I also think that it’s been hard for this campus to be equally balanced,” Swanson said.

This is the second time the student senate has denied Turning Point.

Drake University made a statement about the matter:

“On the evening of Oct. 31, 2019, Drake Student Senate voted 12–6 to not recognize the Drake chapter of Turning Point USA as an official student group. The Student Senate has full authority to review and approve or decline student organizations, as part of the campus-wide shared governance model at Drake, and independent of the University’s administration.

Without recognized status, the organization is not able to use the name “Drake” or “Drake University” in its title, reserve space on campus, use Drake’s tax-exempt status when conducting business, or utilize resources in the Student Life Center.

The Dean of Students Office will continue advocating for a Drake campus that welcomes and encourages divergent views using the University’s Statement of Principles as a guidepost. This advocacy will include helping Student Senate reflect on its stated commitment to shape a campus “that is 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.”

Drake University is committed to an open and productive exchange of ideas, allowing free and informed discussion of political affairs. Currently recognized student groups include: College Republicans, Drake Comrades, Drake Democrats, Roosevelt Institute at Drake University, and Young Americans for Freedom.”

Swanson said she thinks the student senate’s action is not promoting equity and inclusion the university says it strives for.

“I think if we are going to be politically diverse, everyone needs to be accepting of each other and we need to be able to have conversations and understand that we do have differences and that’s OK,” Swanson said.

The Drake Student Senate Student Body President Nicholas Johnston said in a statement:

"The decision was made after comprehensive dialogue and was made solely by the members of the Student Senate, separate from any outside influences or groups."

Johnston also stated when they decided to move into closed session, some students refused to leave the room peacefully and they were then forced to move to a secure location with extra security present.

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