By: Caitlyn Freeman, Editor in Chief and Jake Shindel, Senior Editor
The Student Government Association publicly condemned Towson University’s chapter of Turning Point USA on Wednesday in response to the racism, homophobia and ableism found within the club’s group chat.
A statement signed by President Jordan Colquitt and Vice President Damon Edwards II said the organization recognizes the impact of the chapter’s leaked messages.
“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 statement reads.
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.
The leaked messages showed members of the chapter using homophobic slurs, making ableist comments and admitting to saying the n-word, The Towerlight reported.
The messages sparked outrage on campus, with many students calling on SGA to take action against the group. However, as a non-investigatory body, the governing body cannot take action unless the chapter violates its financial policy.
Despite this, SGA said they will bring forth initiatives to address the bigotry on a student level while investigations are being conducted by the Office of Student Conduct and Civility Education and the Office of Inclusion & Institutional Equity.
In addition to relaunching the #NotatTU campaign focused on educating the campus about hate bias, SGA plans to bring forth legislation that would require professors to include information on how to report hate bias within their syllabi.
This is not the first time the SGA has attempted to require information on hate bias in syllabi.
Back in March 2016, the then SGA senate passed a resolution that would’ve required professors to outline hate bias procedures in their syllabi after several on-campus hate bias incidents, The Towerlight reported. However, the initiative failed in the academic senate as several senators felt it limited academic freedom.
Richard Vatz, longtime rhetoric professor and former member of the academic senate, told The Towerlight that he didn’t support the addition as he felt it limited professors.
“I think there is nothing wrong with suggesting it but that mandating such would be an infringement on academic freedom,” Vatz, who’s the current faculty advisor for TU’s Turning Point chapter, said in 2016.
Vatz recommitted to this sentiment in a statement issued late Wednesday.
“I oppose requirements in syllabi generally, as they impinge on the academic freedom of professors,” Vatz said. “Anyone who knows me knows that I abhor prejudices in academe: racial, sexual, political, religious or any other.”
According to the Academic Senate minutes from March 2016 the SGA bill, senators argued the bill would address the fear students and faculty may feel after hate incidents occur on campus.
“Academic freedom isn’t just for faculty, it’s for students too and if students do not feel comfortable in the classroom then they do not have that freedom,” the notes state.
Further, senators argued the requirement would not be effective as students do not fully read the entire syllabi.
The SGA also plans to change some policies relating to student organizations. The organization plans to reward clubs and organizations who are, “prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion best practices through their events and messaging.”
“Always remember, we stand with you and are advocating for you,” the statement reads.
In a statement, Colquitt said the messages were not representative of TU as a whole.
“Our students spoke loud and clear that we will not support racist, homophobic, xenophobic, ableist, or transphobic hateful speech,” Colquitt said in a text message. “If anything this has shown me just how unified the Towson community is, that to me is the REAL Towson.”