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UWSP conservative student group spurs controversy on campusSubmitted: 11/21/2017

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STEVENS POINT - Where should a college draw the line on what groups it allows on campus?

That question was at the heart of a debate between a conservative student group and the school's student government organization.

The SGA voted against recognizing Turning Point USA which angered some people.

Now, the university has stepped in to settle a fight over first amendment rights.

"Personally I felt that every student had the right to say what they were going to say," said Amelia Heup, the chairwoman of UWSP's College Republicans.


So when a local chapter of the conservative group Turning Point USA was originally denied, Heup and the College Republicans spoke up.

"I think that all voices whether conservative, Democrat, liberal, Republican should be heard no matter what," said Heup.

Any organization can apply to become a student group on campus. A few students filled out paperwork and went in front of student government senators to present Turning Point USA for recognition. But nearly 200 students came to the presentation in opposition.

"I wanted to let my senators from the college of professional studies know that I would feel safer as a student, and I know the people part of my organizations would feel safer, without such an organization here on campus," said Lyn Ciurro, one of the founders of the transgender justice campaign. 

Ciurro was just one student to bring up concerns with the group.

Other students feared Turning Point would work in opposition with students of color, and environmental groups among others.

Those concerns led the student government to vote against recognizing the organization on campus.

But Vice Chancellor of student affairs Al Thompson reversed the decision.

"What I did was look at it from a very objective way, pros and cons, and came to a decision that I felt was of the best interest of our students," said Thompson.

It came down to the right to freedom of speech. Thompson said the campus recognizes all kinds of diversity, including diversity of thought.

Not all students were happy with the reversal. But Thompson said it was a learning experience for all groups involved.

"Most importantly I hope we go forward working together," said Thompson. 

The Student Government Association released a statement saying, "We welcome Turning Point USA at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point as an officially recognized student organization on this campus."


Story By: Rose McBride

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