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UW College Republicans to lose RSO status

“We will have nothing to do with this unauthorized group” says national-level organization

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After years of “hurtful and inappropriate conduct,” the College Republican National Committee (CRNC) is calling for university administration to revoke the UW College Republicans’ (UWCR) RSO status.

In a letter to Vice President of Student Life Dr. Denzil Suite, CRNC National Chairman Chandler Thornton explained that the UWCR have been operating illegitimately since April of 2018, when their charter was revoked.

“We will have nothing to do with this unauthorized group as it is the policy of the CRNC that campuses be free from hurtful or inappropriate speech and be a forum for safe, lively, and diverse opinions being expressed from every corner of America,” Thornton wrote in his Oct. 23 letter.

UWCR President Armen Tooloee claims that the club was unaware that their charter had been revoked and that no examples of “conduct unbecoming a chapter” were ever provided.

In May of 2019, before UWCR held their “affirmative action bake sale” on campus, the Washington College Republican Federation (WCRF), the state-level organization that oversees collegiate chapters, reached out to remind the club that they were unrecognized on both the state and national level.

The email reads, “If this event proceeds, the WCRF will be forced to raise a complaint with the UW Student Activities Office regarding the breach of the contract,” referencing the agreement that the unrecognized UWCR could continue operating with their current name as long as they conducted themselves in a respectful manner.

The UWCR also posted this email on their own Facebook page with the caption “Weak Republicans don't support real protests that seek to solve real problems. We will not back down to liberals or RINOs alike!”

As far back as 2017, the UWCR have received backlash for inviting far-right speakers to campus, including British anti-feminist activist Milo Yiannopoulos, Patriot Prayer, and the self-described “Western Chauvinist” group Proud Boys. Top state republicans have also criticized the club’s tweets.

On Monday, Nov. 5, Tooloee and the rest of the current UWCR officers will lose their email account, existing campus room reservations, and office space, according to an email from the Assistant Director of the Student Activities Office, Rene Singleton, obtained by The Daily.

Singleton and HUB Director Justin Camputaro said in the email that these resources will be given to the chapter officers of the Husky College Republicans, the new RSO officially recognized by the CRNC, on Monday. He added that the UWCR has two options: either join the RSO recognized by the CRNC or form a new RSO unaffiliated with the national college Republicans.

Tooloee is currently threatening legal action, claiming that the WCRF is violating their own constitution by overriding the official procedure of charter revocation, which includes formal notification and an appeals process that he says did not occur.

The WCRF constitution’s section on action against a specific student organization reads, “The State Committee will consider all evidence and statements and will afford the club in question the opportunity to defend itself” and notes that, “Punished clubs may appeal to rejoin the WCRF.”

In an interview with The Daily, Tooloee said that if the university follows through with this punishment, they will likely reform as a new club and continue their social media presence.

“It just feels like we’re being cheated that the name that we put all of our effort into building up is gonna be taken away from us,” he said. “It feels unfair and I feel like we haven’t actually done anything wrong.”

In a press release, UW Spokesperson Victor Balta deferred responsibility to the CRNC, saying:

“The national organization has requested that the UW recognize the Husky College Republicans as the official College Republicans chapter on campus. Any inquiries about this decision should be directed to the College Republican National Committee. If the group previously known as the College Republicans at the University of Washington wishes to request registration under a new name, it is welcome to do so.”

Jack Pickett, president of the WCRF, would not provide comment. Thornton did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reach News Editor Claudia Yaw and reporter Jake Goldstein-Street at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @YawClaudia and @GoldsteinStreet

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