Penalizing TU Purpose without reason is the wrong decision.
Temple University Purpose, the student organization that was surrounded in controversy when it brought Dutch parliamentary leader Geert Wilders to Main Campus back in October, is caught in it again. TU Purpose was briefly placed on the student organization probation list earlier this month for not following event-registration guidelines. The probation, even if it was based in rightful frustration, was ill-advised and hasty.
The event in question was a speech by Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a free-speech advocacy group. According to e-mails between Alvaro Watson, TU Purpose president, and Jason Levy, the director of Student Center Operations, that were published online by FIRE, the probation was due to a lack of proper planning by TU Purpose.
Levy said in the e-mails that SCO had not been able to arrange a meeting with TU Purpose to plan security because the organization had not informed SCO who its speaker would be. He then said the group would be placed on probation, which means another “policy or procedure infraction,” could result in the loss of TU Purpose’s event-hosting privileges.
Watson responded that SCO had not arranged a meeting for another TU Purpose event, despite knowing the political nature of it, and the people involved. He also protested the probation as unfair and wrong.
Watson is right in protesting TU Purpose’s probation. In the e-mail, Levy didn’t provide justification for the probation other than the event-planning incident. If both e-mails are to be believed, then TU Purpose’s infraction was minor at worst, and a simple error at best. This is no reason to place a student organization on probation, no matter how difficult it makes life for SCO. However, further correspondence between the two parties was not published. At the least, The Temple News hopes SCO provided a more detailed explanation as to why TU Purpose was put on probation by answering all the questions Watson posed in his e-mail to Levy. Levy and SCO may entirely be in their rights to put TU Purpose on probation, but it only looks murky and vindictive if the reasons are not further explained.
TU Purpose deserves the same privileges as other student organizations, no matter how controversial its events are. It is also worth mentioning that Lukianoff is hardly a polarizing figure, so the lack of security at this event seems like a minor oversight at worst. Lukianoff said in an article on the Huffington Post that he has only once needed security at an event, one where he sat on a panel that discussed cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
Temple and SCO only look bad, even if their intentions are sincere, when superfluous sanctions like this are thrown around. If there are legitimate reasons, explain them, and the controversy would disappear. Otherwise, the probation and hasty reversal only create more controversy where none needs to be.