DeKALB – After becoming recognized by the Student Government Association, the NIU chapter of Turning Point USA is claiming SGA members “discriminated against” the organization following a lengthy process to recognition.
Kyle Jacobson, founding member and campus coordinator, said when the organization came to the Senate for recognition, they sat through a three-hour meeting of discussion and debate on the topic.
Jacobson said it took a while for TPUSA to find a faculty advisor and when they did, SGA senators sent a Freedom of Information Act request for the names of the advisors.
“Our process for becoming a student organization took a long time because teachers are definitely afraid of joining conservative organizations at radical universities, such as this one, where conservatives often are silenced,” Jacobson said.
TPUSA is a conservative organization that promotes the principles of freedom, free markets and limited government, according to the TPUSA website.
Many TPUSA chapters or conservative organizations have faced opposition from student governments, which they claim as “viewpoint discrimination” in the approval process for student organizations to be formally recognized on campus.
Kevin Fagan, president of Turning Point USA, said at the SGA meeting, he and Jacobson were both “openly called white supremacists and racists.”
Senator Jennifer Oduwole said during the meeting that while the organization may not declare it on paper, it is common knowledge that the majority of members of this organization promote white supremacy, according to March 14 SGA Senate minutes.
She also said the organization has a national reputation for inciting racist, homophobic and transphobic propaganda.
“With the questions that we were asked during the Senate meeting, we were just being asked ridiculous questions, stuff that the Senate has no business asking us just based on their guidelines and recognizing student organizations,” Fagan said. “I was asked if I was a member of the all lives matter organization.”
The national TPUSA has been involved in numerous controversies. Several employees at the national level have resigned or were fired after usage of racist or culturally insensitive language.
In March, a retired firefighter was charged with assaulting Capitol police officers during the Jan. 6 riot who arrived in Washington DC on a bus organized by Turning Point USA, according to a court filing.
Jacobson said NIU’s chapter and the national TPUSA are “one in the same” while he and Fagan make the university chapter how they want it.
“Obviously, we’re in support of the Turning Point USA national organization,” Jacobson said. “They’re very helpful to our chapter, they have great activism, they have great contributors and great shows events across the country.”
Speaker of the Senate Brad Beyer said SGA has a responsibility to be responsive to all students on campus, and because many current and former students raised concerns about this organization, senators carefully considered the application.
“In the process, questions were raised and senators engaged in some debate, which is their responsibility when considering applications for any new student organization,” Beyer said in a March 25 statement. “While discussion of the application took longer than usual, the actual process for recognition was typical of that for any organization seeking approval. Once questions were answered and concerns were addressed, it was determined that Turning Point USA met all of the criteria laid out in our bylaws and the application was approved.”
Jacobson said now that TPUSA is recognized, they plan to organize talks with students on campus to lessen the divide of conservative or democratic students.
“We’re all the same students at NIU, and we make the most of our opportunities that we have,” Jacobson said. “And to hear senators state anything otherwise than that when they’ve never been involved with our group is really disheartening, and it shows that if they’re concerned about their constituents, they’re only concerned about a particular set of their constituents, not the constituents that have different views than them.”