The student senate at Santa Clara University has voted against giving official status to the school’s chapter of Turning Point USA after concerns were raised that approving the pro-capitalism group would be “against [the students’] humanity.”
According to the minutes from the meeting, sophomore senator Alex Perlman said he believed that “the benefits [of] being part of this organization” were “outweighed by the amount of people who feel uncomfortable with people being part of this charter organization.” Multicultural Center Director Issac Nieblas said that “the organization . . . is against our ideals as a Jesuit philosophy and against our humanity and senators need to think about that before voting.” Several attendees expressed concerns that some other schools’ chapters of the group had invited alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos to their campuses. And TPUSA petitioner Caleb Alleva told the Daily Caller that the general idea behind the opposition was that having the group on campus would make people feel “unsafe.”
Despite the fact that the Santa Clara TPUSA petitioners assured the senate that they themselves would never invite Yiannopoulos, their group was ultimately denied official status, meaning that it cannot have access to school funds.
First of all, I keep wondering when campus leftists will realize that their overblown reactions to the possibility of having Yiannopoulos at their schools are exactly what’s keeping him employed. After all, as I discussed in December, people freaking out about Yiannopoulos is the foundation of Yiannopoulos’s entire career, and the whole “I’m a hero for free speech in a culture where free speech is under attack!” shtick wouldn’t work so well if people didn’t keep stopping him from being free to speak.
Second of all, characterizing TPUSA speakers as “Yiannopoulos and people like him” is misguided. For example: I myself have given speeches for TPUSA, and I’m a libertarian whose views on certain issues lean further to the left than those of many Democrats. As the TPUSA petitioners at the meeting repeatedly pointed out, the organization has no party affiliation and invites free-market-minded people of all persuasions. What’s more, even if TPUSA did plan to invite Yiannopoulos and people like him . . . then so what?
Let me be clear: I’m not saying that I can’t understand why people might have problems with the views of the alt-right. I most certainly can understand it; I have them myself, but I also understand that disagreeing with the views of potential speakers is no reason to deny a group official status. After all, the role of a student senate is not to act as some kind of body of gatekeepers that decides which views do and do not deserve a place on campus, and it’s disgusting and arrogant that the one at Santa Clara seems to see itself that way.
Listen up, kids: The appropriate response to a viewpoint that you disagree with is not to attempt to silence it. Not only will you fail (ever hear of this thing called “the Internet”?) but you’ll also miss an opportunity for an educational, thought-provoking discussion . . . which is pretty clearly the exact kind of opportunity that a university should be encouraging.
Oh, and by the way — if you really are someone who feels “unsafe” because a pro-capitalist group has official status on your campus, then you have some very serious growing up to do. If you’re a second-semester student at college, that means that you’re an adult. There are people in this country your exact age risking their lives in literal warzones right now, and I’d advise you to gain some perspective before embarrassing yourself by opening your mouth again.
— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.