On October 7, the Northern Iowa Student Government rejected a bill to recognize the group Students for Life. After over an hour of debate, the bill failed 3-11. Why? Senators called it a “hate group.”

Censoring a group for holding conservative views is a clear constitutional violation. The University’s policies clearly state, “Registration of a student organization does not constitute University or NISG (Northern Iowa Student Government) endorsement or approval of the viewpoints or activities of the organization.  It is the policy of the University and NISG to register any student organization formed in good faith for a lawful purpose.”

But the fix was in from the start.  Before the hearing, senators were informed Students for Life’s proposed constitution met all requirements to become an organization. One senator opened the debate by saying, “we approve student organizations based on if they meet our requirements of  a constitution” and that “an organization cannot be denied because you oppose or support their mission.” 

Still, the group was denied.

“This is a hate group. This is hate speech. This is hateful rhetoric that is infringing on the human rights of healthcare,” one senator lamented. 

“This [isn’t] about opinions, it’s not about speech, it’s not about censorship, it’s about . . . a specific group of people that are part of a national organization whose specific intended goal is to pursue actions that will be harmful to our community,” claimed another. 

On Wednesday, on appeal to the NISG Supreme Court, the original ruling against Student’s for Life was upheld. According to the Senate, the organization was not formed “in good faith for a lawful purpose,” according to the aforementioned university policies. 

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) explained what “a lawful purpose,” means in law, and why this is not applicable to Students for Life. 

It’s a low bar, essentially meaning that so long as your organization is not established to do something illegal, it satisfies the “lawful purpose” burden.

Sophomore Sophia Schuster, the student who started the process of seeking recognition for Students for Life said, “There’s one more appeal, and that will go to the president of UNI, President (Mark) Nook,” who has appellate jurisdiction over the NISG Supreme Court Decisions.

The UNI administration seems to be on the side of Students for Life, releasing a statement saying, “UNI will not uphold a decision that violates the First Amendment and university policy,” and “We have provided the petitioning student organization with resources and encouraged them to appeal the decision, which they did this afternoon. 

President Nook should reverse this decision, one doing a disservice to both sides in furthering the abortion debate.  And hey, maybe he should also apologize.


Hat Tip: FIRE, The Courier

About The Author

Mark Meckler

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.