The student senate voted to table a bill that would grant the right wing organization Turning Point USA registered student organization status at Wednesday’s meeting.
Senator Ella Perkins made the motion of tabling, citing legal questions.
“My motion to table had to do with wanting legal clarification on, ‘Is it legal to vote no if you feel that is best representing your constituents?’” Perkins said. “I kind of want that question answered for the senate at large and I think that can pose a broader question of what we are allowed to do with our process.”
Before she motioned to table the bill, she encouraged senators to “abstain” from voting instead of voting yes to avoid possible legalities.
Perkins said this decision came after talking to her constituents, who she said voiced discomfort over the organization.
On a national level, the group has faced significant controversy. In 2019, a leaked video showed a chapter leader shouting “white power” and other offensive phrases. The organization then fired the individual shortly after.
“I’ve talked to hundreds of students … regarding the concerns of the presence of the student group on campus, and I think those concerns are valid enough that as an at-large senator, I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable voting in affirmation of a student group that most of my constituents don’t agree with and I was obviously elected to represent them,” Perkins said.
“I think there is just clearly a legal question here of whether they clearly have the right to freedom of speech under the first amendment of the constitution, but I think there are also valid concerns of students.”
WSU’s Turning Point USA President Olivia Gallegos, who is also an SGA senator, answered questions from the student senate during last week’s meeting.
Gallegos faced backlash from students in March over a social media post supporting Turning Point USA contributor Morgan Zegers. Many students pushed for Gallegos’ resignation, but she ultimately remained a senator.
Gallegos stated that the group’s goal is to “promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government. Turning Point USA believes that every young person can be enlightened to true free market value.”
In response to worries from senators, she told senate that the group adhered to university policies concerning non-discrimination.
Tayton Majors, who chairs the committee that sees registered student organizations, said that any RSO has oversight to make sure they follow all university rules and regulations.
“There is oversight that comes from both student involvement and the student code of conduct,” Majors said. “If they violate any of the principles set forth that they agreed to previously, which is a prerequisite to their determination of recognition that they are subject to all student code of conduct.”