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SUNY Cortland students win club approval in ‘significant victory’ for free speech
TPUSA student leaders at SUNY Cortland, Megan Rothmund and Gabriella Delorenzo

Student government reverses action, recognizes TPUSA club after lawsuit filed

Faced with a lawsuit, the State University of New York Cortland approved conservative students’ request this week to form a Turning Point USA club, according to their lawyers.

The decision comes less than a week after The College Fix reported about the lawsuit, which challenges the public university’s initial rejection of the club. Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the students.

“SUNY Cortland students Gabriella Delorenzo and Megan Rothmund worked hard to form a TPUSA chapter at the university to bring together students who value freedom, free markets, and limited government,” ADF Legal Counsel Mathew Hoffmann said in a news release. “The Student Government Association rightly overturned its original vote and has now officially recognized the group.”

Rothmund (pictured left) and Delorenzo (pictured right) started the chapter in the fall of 2023 “to bring together students who value freedom, free markets, and limited government,” but the student government denied their request for official recognition at a Nov. 28 meeting, according to the lawsuit.

When they met with administrators a few days later, university President Erik Bitterbaum told the students that they could not appeal the decision and discouraged them from re-applying, the lawsuit alleges.

Turning Point USA spokesman Andrew Kolvet said the reversal this week is a “significant victory” for campus free speech.

“However, we remain committed to advocating for policy changes that ensure all viewpoints are respected and protected in the future,” Kolvet said in the news release. “This win energizes our resolve to continue fighting for the rights of students nationwide.”

Hoffman said SUNY Cortland still has an unconstitutional policy that needs to go.

The policy allows “the student government to approve or deny every student organization seeking recognition and it allows students to deny recognition for any or no reason at all,” he said. “We will continue to ensure that the First Amendment thrives on SUNY Cortland’s campus and elsewhere.”

Delorenzo told The Fix last week that conservative students should have the same right to speak as anyone else on campus.

“Conservatives have the same right to speak as any of their peers without fear of being silenced. Everyone should be free to speak without fear of their speech being shut down, especially on a public university campus,” she said.

MORE: TPUSA sues SUNY Cortland for club denial

IMAGE: Megan Rothmund and Gabriella Delorenzo

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.