Senate grants SGA recognition to Turning Point USA

The+Student+Government+Association+is+located+in+Holmes+Student+Center+on+the+ground+floor+in+the+OASIS+space.+

Patrick Murphy | Northern Star

The Student Government Association is located in Holmes Student Center on the ground floor in the OASIS space.

Ashley Dwy, Reporter

DeKALB – The Student Government Association recognized Turning Point USA as an official student organization on Sunday, despite pushback from students at the meeting. 

Turning Point USA’s mission is to identify, educate, train and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free market and limited government, said Kevin Fagan, president of Turning Point USA.

This organization is a national nonprofit organization looking to open their chapter at NIU. Once a week the members are on campus to get new members to join and share their ideas. They have weekly activism, initiatives and chapter meetings, and hope to host speakers and bigger events on campus with SGA recognition, said Kyle Jacobson, SGA vice president and campus coordinator for Turning Point USA. 

During public comments, two students voiced their concerns over having this organization recognized as an official club. 

“Not only was (Turning Point USA) involved at the insurrection of the Capitol on Jan. 6, but this group poses a violent threat to the students of color and the most marginalized at NIU,” said Alejandra Hernandez, a transfer music performance major. “The values, views and policies that this organization stands for are racist, xenophobic, ableist, classist and transphobic. These policies have real consequences, and they’re deadly.”

This has not been the first time concerns about NIU’s chapter of Turning Point USA have been brought up; specifically, their social media posts about “radical left” and socialist memes have been worrying students, according to an Oct. 28 Northern Star article.

Also regarding their social media posts, Cristian Hernandez, chairperson for campus life and Greek affairs, said there are discrepancies with their actions and words versus their bylaws and mission statement.

“For example, on Aug. 29, 2020, the TPUSA NIU page on Instagram posted, ‘This is what four more years means,’ endorsing Trump and its watermarked ‘students for Trump,’” Hernandez said. “I would feel a lot more comfortable if it was stated in their bylaws and their constitution that they are politically affiliated.”

When senators asked Jacobson and Fagan to amend their nondiscrimination clause to include that they do not discriminate based on political party, they refused.

“Turning Point USA’s mission is to educate students about the importance of fiscal responsibility, free markets and capitalism through innovative campus activism, and this is referring to – we want to talk grammar wise – the nonpartisan thought-provoking discussion,” Jacobson said. “That nonpartisan is describing our discussion, not our organization as a whole.”

On top of the organization itself facing opposition from the students, Jacobson faced the same opposition last semester. Students wanted Jacobson to step down as SGA vice president because they felt he would not accurately represent all students after publicly supporting the Blue Lives Matter movement on his social media accounts, according to an Oct. 19 Northern Star article.

“(Jacobson) posted a Tweet on his Instagram from Total Frat Move saying, ‘If you have she/her in your bio, I’m just going to assume that you’re not going to like me,’” industrial engineering major Nyera Hayes said. “When asked about it, he said that nonbinary people were confused. I find it mortifying that he is trying to start an organization. I find it mortifying that he’s the vice president of SGA because he is going to be the one that has to represent the non-binary people he just mocked.”

Jacobson said Turning Point USA’s non-discrimination clause is the most dynamic of any other student organization on campus.

“We promote the success of all students,” Jacobson said. “That’s why we’re out on campus doing what we do, talking to every student on campus and making sure the university experience for all students isn’t inhibited here. We’re activists for students on campus, and we’re activists for students in the country.”

The whole point of why we do student org recognition is to be able to grant students –  all students – the ability to have access to university resources, like reserving rooms on campus or requesting money from the student activity fee if needed.”

— Brad Beyer

During his Speaker’s report, speaker of the Senate Brad Beyer, said approval of a student organization is by no means an endorsement of their viewpoints.

“One of our responsibilities is approving recognition for student organizations in an objective fashion, meaning, has an org met all of the requirements in order to become a recognized student organization on campus,” Beyer said. “The whole point of why we do student org recognition is to be able to grant students –  all students – the ability to have access to university resources, like reserving rooms on campus or requesting money from the student activity fee if needed.”

As a public university, SGA is obligated to follow certain protocols as they relate to the rights of all students and student organizations, which includes the right to freedom of expression, Beyer said.

At the same time, the senators wanted to listen to their constituents who voiced their concerns during public comments.

“I would just like to say to all of you as a whole, do your job, represent your constituents and vote on what you think is best for your constituents,” Hernandez said.