By: Michael Olszewski, SGA reporter
The Student Government Association introduced a resolution encouraging professors to include information on the Towson University policy on reporting hate bias incidents within their syllabi during their Oct. 18 general assembly meeting.
The resolution comes a week after President Jordan Colquitt and Vice President Damon Edwards II promised action after leaked messages show TU’s chapter of Turning Point USA using racial, homophobic and ableist slurs.
The TU Turning Point chapter is an SGA-affiliated organization, but does not currently receive funding as they do not meet baseline requirements to do so.
“We stand with those that have been impacted by recent events, and are here to reiterate our stance regarding our role in supporting fellow students,” the joint statement reads.
The meeting also saw members of the TU chapter of Young Democratic Socialists of America speaking out against the University’s response to the messages. As a public institution, the University has declined to punish the chapter members in order to abide by the First Amendment.
“SGA should be putting pressure on the University to recognize, condemn, and properly address these acts of hate speech. Individuals should be held accountable, and the campus should be made inhospitable to bigotry,” Chair Richard Soucy said during the meeting.
As a public institution, the University has declined to punish the chapter for the messages as no direct threat towards another student was made. First Amendment experts say the decision was correct in the interest of preventing a lawsuit, but many students think otherwise.
“It’s important that we don’t let Towson University hide behind flimsy First Amendment protections because they’re afraid of bad optics,” Soucy said.
According to the YDSA, the University has grounds to make an official statement against the rhetoric used by members of TPUSA. The group claims that denouncing the hateful rhetoric from TPUSA is not a violation of the first amendment right to speech.
Soucy said the University should look into cyberbullying and potentially investigate the group for evidence of hate speech and bias.
While the University has yet to put out an official statement on the messages, Patricia Bradley, TU’s vice president of the Office of Institutional and Instructional Equity, denounced the messages during a listening session on Oct. 7.
“Bigoted, homophobic, racist assholes exist on our campus,” Bradley told attendees. “And guess what, those bigoted, racist, homophobic assholes have constitutional protections.”