Student Sues Her School Over Denying Conservative Club On Campus

A student at Hagerstown Community College (HCC) in Maryland is suing the college after being denied the authorization to start a conservative group on campus.

Moriah DeMartino, a second year student at HCC, was denied the right to launch a Turning Point USA chapter on campus and told no such group could be established because of its political leanings. College administrators further stated in an email to DeMartino that the formation of an expressly partisan Republican club could only commence if a Democrat group was launched simultaneously.

The administration went on to further explain that Hagerstown does not allow students to, “start new clubs that duplicate the purpose and mission of existing clubs.”

Turning Point USA chapters, which can be found on over 800 public and private campus across the country, are non-partisan groups that educate students on fiscal responsibility.

When DeMartino’s attempts to create a Turning Point chapter were refused she approached one of the Political Science advisors on campus, only to be told that the group’s views were “too political.” The professor went on suggest that a Young Republicans and a Young Democrats club should be created instead.

The consistency of Hagerstown’s student organization policy is in question.

Currently HCC student groups include clubs for the National Organization for Women (NOW) and Spectrum Club, a club whose “primary goal is to create a safe environment for students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, questioning, and straight allies.”

DeMartino is calling the school’s policy inconsistent, “There is a lack of consistency on campus when it comes to student organizations. There are clearly other overlapping mission statements from organizations at Hagerstown.”

As an educational institution Hagerstown says they value diversity and freedom of speech, however if you do not agree with the administration your beliefs are disregarded.” DeMartino commented, “This this not about silencing student groups that have different viewpoints from Turning Point, it’s about protecting our First Amendment rights.”

DeMartino has gathered over two hundred signatures around campus supporting the creation of a TPUSA chapter, yet Hagerstown continues to assert that such a chapter would duplicate an already existing group on campus. HCC’s Dean of Student Affairs Jessica Chambers told the online publication Campus Reform that she reviewed Moriah’s submission to start a TPUSA chapter and “determined that this request does not meet the necessary requirements to allow [her] approval for the club’s formation.”

“The reason for my decision is based on several things, including the first statement listed under ‘Starting a Club’ on page two of HCC’s Club Guide. It states the following: ‘The first step to create a new club on campus is to research existing clubs to be sure the mission and purpose are not duplicated.’”

Moriah DeMartino is adamant her group formation denial is a violation of HCC’s student policy and has filed a lawsuit against Hagerstown. “I’ve spoken privately to students who are very interested in Turning Point USA’s mission. I believe in fighting for my beliefs and my rights as an American.”

Follow the author on Twitter: @kelsey_petruzzi

Original story published on Hypeline.org.

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