by CALEB LILLQUIST
On Nov. 25 the Young Americans for Freedom organization on campus held a free speech forum for all of the political groups on campus. It was hosted by Drake College Republicans and Democrats and members of Turning Point USA, along with the Drake student senate. Drake Comrades was also in attendance.
Tony Tyler, Drake’s student director of equity and inclusion, gave an opening statement for students.
“Tonight’s event is not about a debate, but instead all about discussion,” Tyler said in reference to the recent controversy of the student senate voting down TPUSA. “This is all about hearing other people’s side.”
Katie Moon, social media chair for Turning Point, talked about the night of the senate vote. She shared her frustrations with the “closed session” decision of the senate that prevented them a reasoning as to why their group was voted down along with the way how Drake Comrades conducted themselves.
After Moon gave her remarks, Nick Johnson, President of the Student Senate, shared his side of the story. Johnson talked about his frustrations with the “false narratives” going around about Drake Senate. He had also shared his frustrations of the pulling of money, referencing Drake alumni about the vote, which he felt “pressured” students to act a certain way about an issue.
“Problems only have solutions if we seek them, we have to believe in each other,” Johnson said.
The hour and a half event involved students purposely getting out of their comfort zones by moving to tables with people of the opposite political view. It was here that a YAF member moderated questions such as “What do you think about the recent senate vote” and “What do you think about Free Speech in America” in which students talked in a circle to voice their own opinions and concerns. Small group discussion was then followed by a big group discussion, in which students would actively engage with those in attendance.
Students voiced their concerns regarding the student senate: many said that there currently is not a way to challenge the senate on their rulings.
“There is no transparency here,” said Matt Deike, a freshman studying strategic political communications and public relations in regard to how the Senate conducted themselves.
Many students had agreed on the statement that they had “lost faith in the members of the senate.” The Times-Delphic asked students at the event what they would have done differently in this situation. Many responded that the meeting and vote should have been open to the public.
“What we did tonight is valuable,” Tyler said at the end of the event. “I challenge you to continue this pattern and be thoughtful in how you leave this space tonight.”