February 12, 2017
The following is an an open letter sent to Jim Lyons, vice president of University Relations, written by a Santa Clara alumnus.
Dear Mr. Lyons,
I am a Santa Clara alumnus with a BS degree in commerce. I recently learned that an organization I support, Turning Point USA, was declined RSO status at Santa Clara. This denial of RSO status is quite disturbing to me because it reflects the growing trend of liberal colleges across this country to marginalize students and faculty who do not adhere to a particular political and social ideology.
The following is the Mission Statement of Turning Point USA: Turning Point USA educates students about the importance of fiscal responsibility, free markets and limited government. Through non-partisan debate, dialogue and discussion, Turning Point USA believes that every young person can be enlightened to true free market values.
If there is anything sinister, exclusionary, or inflammatory in that statement that is contrary to the mission of Santa Clara, please enlighten me. What better atmosphere for the open, peaceful and respectful dialogue of different ideas than on a college campus?
TPUSA has not demonstrated any violent incidents in its history nor does it promote it. What it does do is offer Santa Clara students the chance to learn more about the opportunities available to them and anyone living in a free-market society.
As a business executive for over 40 years, I am a staunch supporter of free markets and believe that free markets allow ALL members of our society an opportunity to succeed. It is refreshing to encounter a young organization that proudly defends the principles of capitalism, an economic policy that has allowed our country to reach the pinnacles it has reached in its young 240 years.
Additionally, it is a fact that free market capitalism is the only successful economic policy that delivers more people out of poverty than any other while at the same time offering them the opportunity to recognize their full potential.
I see a couple of troublesome issues. First, after reviewing the RSO Directory, there are 200+ groups that have been granted RSO status, including The Harry Potter Club, The Bridge Club and The Culinary Arts Club. It is quite a stretch for me to believe that a Turning Point chapter cannot, at a minimum, match the benefits of the previously mentioned clubs.
Second, I find it disturbing that students resort to a default position of “safe places” or feeling “unsafe” as a reason to vote against RSO status. Higher academic institutions such as Santa Clara should provide and promote a platform for students to grow and be tolerant of differing viewpoints so they can decide their own course and prepare them for the real world.
Facts should not be confused with emotions. Turning Point USA has no history of exclusion, violence, or intolerance. Feeling “unsafe” is a weak argument at best.
Unfortunately, this default position is becoming more and more prevalent on campuses across the country. In my years at Santa Clara, I recall quite clearly how the concept of “critical thinking” was emphasized as opposed to “group think.”
Therefore, I respectfully request that you review the grounds of this decision so that Turning Point gets the fair consideration it deserves.
Michael J. Bonasera
Class of 1968
Michael Bonasera is a Santa Clara alumnus who graduated in 1968.