Jessie Leach, the president of Turning Point USA’s campus chapter, recently submitted a letter admonishing members of our student government for scrutinizing the organization’s request (which was ultimately granted) for $10,000 to bring AM radio host Dennis Prager to campus. I have never seen anyone so upset over receiving this much money.
With only two members of the ASUW Senate abstaining, the vote may as well have been unanimous. While I applaud Sens. Blazovich and Westlake for helping to make their constituents’ voices heard on the matter, I fail to grasp how this could possibly constitute “undue pressure and enhanced scrutiny” or suppression of student speech, as Leach has put it.
I am surely not the only one who detects a whiff of entitlement animating Leach’s pathos-laden appeal to the supposed marginalization of conservative students on campus. Presuming entitlement to other students’ money in order to line the pockets and stroke the ego of a man whose estimated net worth is $5 million is a clear example of the selfishness that same man tells us we are to expect exclusively from socialists.
This amount of student monies has never before been spent to bring any other speaker to campus—not even the Bern. The fact that they are primarily sponsored by the Theatre and Dance Department aside, I am also confident this amount exceeds the budget of any one of Bill Downs’ horrendous plays. In any case, neither of these events got paid for using the student fees entrusted to ASUW in accordance with UW Reg. 8-249.
Furthermore, the total cost of the event ($17,000 including TPUSA’s contribution) exceeds 10 percent of the total funding distributed by the RSO funding board in fiscal year 2015, over the course of which a total of $163,672.94 was disbursed to 68 different student organizations, according to uwyo.edu. In this light, Leach ‘s dismissal of Diwali Night (a celebration of one of the largest festivals of Hinduism, representing more than a billion people around the world) as a comparable use of student fees to fund an “interest niche” event appears both ignorant and childish.
I want student representatives to be willing to say ‘No.’ the next time a group of entitled, self-marginalizing students demand a $10,000 check to satisfy their sweet tooth for validation by some talking head whose sole stake in our community seems to be that they can profit from student malgovernment.