February 9, 2017
Over the past week media outlets have covered Santa Clara University’s Student Senate vote on Turning Point USA.
The Student Senate of Santa Clara University voted against the approval of Turning Point – 10 in favor and 16 opposed. The decision came after input from a diverse range of constituent voices for and against the approval of Turning Point USA.
During the senate deliberation, senators for and against the approval of Turning Point were given the floor to voice their opinions. The final decision was a product of a rigorous, fair, and democratic voting process. Turning Point has the right to request a judicial appeal, and this process will take place in the next few days.
The student senate is democratically elected (five representatives for each of the four classes). As chair of the senate I appointed our eight at-large senators, bringing the total to twenty-eight (two of whom did not vote on Turning Point due to being absent).
The student body of SCU elected its senate for the purpose of making difficult decisions like the one we made on Turning Point. None of the media outlets publishing on Monday and Tuesday reached out to me or any other member of our executive cabinet. Instead of doing their due diligence and reporting on the complexity and integrity of Senate’s process, national media outlets like the Daily Caller and National Review opted for partial coverage and half-truths, seeking to use cheap one-liners as a substitute for nuanced journalism.
Let me be clear, the Santa Clara students who presented for Turning Point were professional and respectful toward senate and the rest of the audience. Santa Clara has given the democratically elected senate the authority of club approval.
Finally, I would like to reach out directly to those who feel disappointed by this decision: our student senate still works for you. While not satisfactory to all, this decision was a product of the democratic process in action. That process requires that we listen to every student who wishes to be heard.
The vote was not unanimous. If a flip of four votes had occurred in support of the club, Turning Point would have passed. Despite the media’s portrayal of senate, many senators believed that TPUSA should be given a chance.
As a student government organization that seeks to empower every student on campus, we will continue to open new doors of opportunity for dialogue. In doing so, we will represent and assist all students, always.
Neil Datar is chair of the student senate in the Associated Student Government.