‘We don’t deny organizations without legitimate reason’
West Virginia University’s student government has approved funding for a leftist student group whose leader was recorded physically attacking members of a conservative group three weeks ago.
The Left Alliance had also told the Turning Point USA chapter to leave its Jan. 25 meeting, a possible violation of the code for registered student organizations.
Though the university’s Office of Student Conduct investigated Kelley Denham’s recorded aggression toward the conservative students and interviewed the parties, nothing public has come of it, leaving the Left Alliance’s campus status intact.
The group proceeded to apply for a $1,000 grant from the Student Government Association, which would be used to cater an upcoming conference, according to video of the meeting.
It’s not clear whether Denham kept his position leading the Gender Equality Movement (GEM), another student group, after the video went viral.
The day after the altercation, Jan. 26, an archived version of the “Student Organization” page on the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies website showed Denham listed as GEM president.
GEM’s listing had disappeared entirely by the next day, according to a Jan. 27 archived version of the page. But Denham’s Facebook page remains live, and he remains listed as an “admin” for GEM’s Facebook group.
Two days after his altercation with the conservative students, Denham changed his Facebook cover photo. He has made no known public statements since then.
‘They are still a student organization’
The Left Alliance’s request was heard by student leaders at the Student Government Association’s Wednesday night meeting, without any debate or questions.
Voting members approved it and several other grant requests in a unanimous block vote, giving the alliance the full $1,000 it had requested.
None of its members spoke in favor of its grant request at the meeting, and did not identify themselves if they were in attendance. (The Left Alliance’s Twitter account has not been updated since last spring, and its Facebook page linked from Twitter is dead.)
Asked before the vote whether a group would still be eligible for funding after it was shown to have violated student conduct rules, a spokesperson for the WVU administration told The College Fix: “They are still a student organization and as such are permitted to make the request.”
The administration sent The Fix a statement by SGA President Julie Merow after the vote defending the grant to the Left Alliance.
“Student government looks at grant applications from organizations objectively and allocates funds to them if possible,” Merow wrote. “We don’t deny organizations without legitimate reason.”
Student senator Tyler Brewster told The Fix after the vote that it was “not our discretion to be the student conduct board” by withholding a grant from the Left Alliance: “That is not our place.”
Even if the conduct board had publicly ruled that the Left Alliance had violated the student code, it “probably” wouldn’t change the SGA’s decision, he said: “That’s not a part of our protocol when giving a grant.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The author was involved in the altercation Jan. 25 and has been interviewed in the course of the administration’s investigation.
IMAGE: Kaitlynn Critchfield/Facebook