ROTC student banned from starting conservative club, Jesuit university refuses to say why
FEBRUARY 26, 2016T
If Jesuit Creighton University is “dedicated to the pursuit of truth in all its forms,” as its mission statement says, it is poorly conveying those values with respect to an ROTC student who has tried to start a conservative club this academic year.
For the second time in as many semesters, the Student Life and Involvement Center (SLIC) at the Jesuit institution rejected Justin Carrizales’ application to start a chapter of Turning Point USA, a nonpartisan student organization dedicated to free markets, limited government and personal responsibility.
The school has refused to explain why except to say that the proposed club is too similar to other unstated clubs at Creighton, and it has given conflicting answers on when exactly the application was rejected.
But Carrizales, who has attended leadership conference with the national Turning Point USA organization, suspects the denial was retaliation for him publicly identifying a professor who suggested Donald Trump was the “Anti-Christ” on an exam.
The ROTC student had a short interview with two students and the SLIC director, Katie Kelsey, after turning in his application, Carrizales told The College Fix.
“One of the students was there in regards to fundraising and the financial aspect, and the other was there on behalf of student life,” he said. Carrizales “fully” answered questions for about 15-30 minutes on fundraising, which was “stated in the Constitution” he brought, as well as membership and “how it would be different from other clubs like College Republicans.
“I conveyed all the activities we have done and what we would be hoping to do this school year and moving forward as a club,” he said. “They had no further questions, and I left.”
Yet the denial letter from Kelsey questioned the sustainability of the proposed club and said Carrizales had not provided enough information about it. Both Carrizales and The Fix have asked Kelsey and university media relations multiple times for more information on which organizations a Turning Point chapter would allegedly duplicate. (The “duplicate” answer has been used to reject at least one other Turning Point club.)
Under review in early December or mid-January?
Conflicting accounts of the timeline of events also make Carrizales suspicious.
He gave a screenshot of the anti-Trump exam question to Hypeline, a Turning Point website, which did not reveal his identity. But Carrizales said he was quickly revealed as the source because other students knew of his Turning Point affiliation, and he ended up writing a Facebook post about it and the professor’s repeated criticism of Trump in class:
Regarding the sharing of Dr. Acosta’s extra-credit test question, I was asked how this made me feel, and this would be my full response to that and anyone with questions:
As someone who comes from Chicago, I have seen this sort of institutional bias before. Now, as someone who attends college classes at a Catholic University, with highly educated professors, I am easily once again extremely disappointed in our educational system. There is no way to disregard that people have opinions and bias one way or another, and that is more than justified. But when people, especially teachers, blatantly shove their opinions down students’ throats in a fashion as if it were factual, that’s more than a problem. But overall, beyond teachers and professors openly vocalizing their opinions, this opinion was put into a graded college required course’s final as credit. I can openly say I DO NOT support Donald Trump’s candidacy, but what if I actually did support Trump? Would I have taken the 5 point deduction just to answer one of the other degrading comments, while simultaneously compromising my own personal beliefs?
I have also heard of some backlash as me being a student who argued with Dr. Acosta in class only to get “slammed” and that this is me getting back at him. The truth of the matter is that allegedly happened in Acosta’s 12:30 class. I was in His class at 2:00.
Apart from that, Acosta did have multiple classes in which he discussed irrelevant political topics to his course, in a very inappropriate manner. Each time Acosta made these political comments I was in military uniform, in which case I cannot comment on anything political. I myself restrained from making any political comments in class or towards Acosta himself. You are free to ask anyone else in that class about me, and whoever made this rumor is gravely mistaken.
To anyone who thinks this was a “joke” or some type of humor that is totally incorrect. He has spoken very strongly against Donald Trump in class before and I could not see how this in anyway is a joke. Along with that, if it were, it would be extremely unprofessional and distasteful to have a joke or humor about something like that in a graded final for credit.
In correspondence with Dr. Acosta before he confronted me about the news article he stated: “P.S. On the bright side, you understand very well the case of Donald Trump smile emoticon.” Only after he learned about the articles coming out about his test question did he state to the students of his class that the extra credit question was not meant to be taken seriously and that “Everyone will get the 5 extra-credit points whether you answered it or not.”
Furthermore, anyone who claims that I did this because I disagree with his political opinions extremely incorrect. I did not bring this to light as a means of suppressing liberal ideology. I spoke out against Acosta’s actions as a means of speaking out against political indoctrination within higher education. If any of you wish to criticize me for that that is fine, but recognize that I did this for you as well. I did this so anyone with any opinion (regardless of whether or not I agree) does not have to be coerced into compromising their beliefs. If some people cannot understand that then they are part of the problem.
My intention was not to have people attack Dr. Acosta in any way when I shared the information of that question. In no way shape or form did I want to cause him any harm, I can only apologize for the way others have responded to the information. I have always appreciated and respected Dr. Acosta as a person and an English Professor when teaching the information regarding the course.
Creighton spokeswoman Cindy Workman told The Fix in an email that Carrizales’ application was denied two weeks before the Hypeline story, which was published Dec. 15.
That would mean the university had waited six weeks to tell Carrizales its decision. Workman explained the discrepancy as follows: “The recommendation for denial was given to the vice provost for student life in early December. The vice provost’s office returned the recommendation in January as the University was closed for the holiday and classes did not resume until mid-January.”
Carrizales told The Fix that at his interview, he was told the applications would not be reviewed until Christmas break. When Carrizales called a SLIC employee Jan. 17, the day before receiving the denial letter, he was told the application was still under review.
That means university employees have given three periods during which Carrizales’ application was under review: the first week of December, over Christmas break and Jan. 17.
Multiple emails to the public relations office of the university have not been returned.