While the U. S. government continues to unearth terrorist cells on American soil, senior and junior officials in our nation’s academies busily combat-conservative student groups.
Ryan Cooper came into the crosshairs of this assault when he sought recognition for a campus chapter of Young Americans for Freedom from the student government at Southwest Missouri State University. Cooper sought the same recognition that the SMSU student government confers on a host of other groups including the College Democrats, Amnesty International, the Sierra Club, Students United for International Peace and the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Alliance.
As SMSU Dean of Students Earl Doman points out, “Meeting space, the opportunity to request funding, etc. are provided to all recognized student organizations.” Recognition also allows groups to sign up members and bring in speakers partially funded by the student government through student fees.
Like many campuses, SMSU features few conservative, or even moderate speakers. Cooper counts one or two speakers such as National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg and author Ben Stein for every event featuring an attraction such as Wilma Mankill and the Spitfire tour. Thus far this year, YAF’s main event featured a September 11th memorial.
With YAF boasting about the same number of members as the other aforementioned campus groups, the student government’s action remains puzzling. AIA tried to unravel the mystery by calling campus officials.
When we specifically asked why YAF could not enlist recruits at the New Student Festival that SMSU holds, Jill Drake, Student Activities Director, said, via e-mail, “To clarify, New Student Festival is only for recognized student organizations and colleges/departments at SMSU.”
Conversely, Dean Doman pointed out, “Accomodating student groups who are in the process of being recognized is a common practice on our campus.”
“His [Ryan Cooper’s] organization received approval for recognition from the University administrative office that works with student organization (Office of Student Activities), and the YAF constitution and registration forms have been sent to the Student Government Association, the final step to become a recognized student organization on our campus.”
Mal Kline is an Executive Director of AIA and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org