20 May 2016

Maryland Conservative Group Finally Given Green Light

Conservative College Group
Many students in Maryland were ecstatic after their community college changed its policies to settle a lawsuit brought by a student who said the school prevented her from starting a conservative student group or even discussing the group on campus.

Moriah DeMartino, a 22-year-old student in her final year at the state-supported Hagerstown Community College, sued the school in February 2016 after it stopped her from opening a chapter of Turning Point USA (TPUSA).

The organization’s mission "is to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government," according to its website, which includes images of young people holding signs with slogans such as "Big Government Sucks."

In her suit, DeMartino said faculty members were skeptical of her idea for a school chapter of TPUSA, then turned down her application last year, saying the organization was "duplicative" of the existing political science club.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland reads, "Professor Schwartz reviewed the pamphlets and commented that the pamphlets contained very clear political ideologies. Professor Schwartz then stated that he did not think that he would agree to forming a TPUSA club because of TPUSA’s views but did like the idea of forming both a Young Republicans and Young Democrats chapters within the Political Science Club."

After DeMartino tried to collect signatures for a petition supporting TPUSA on campus, she said she was stopped by campus police.

"The police chief instructed Ms. DeMartino that she must immediately stop engaging in the speech activities," her suit read. "... This action is premised on the United States Constitution and concerns the denial of Ms. DeMartino’s fundamental rights to free speech, due process, and equal protection of law."

In a settlement agreement circulated by Alliance Defending Freedom, parts of which were redacted, Hagerstown Community College agreed to adopt an "expressive activity policy," among other changes.