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Conservative group to seek Nebraska university recognition

September 23, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A conservative group’s plans to establish a University of Nebraska-Lincoln chapter are moving forward one year after the efforts stalled from a prolonged confrontation over free speech.

Turning Point USA appears to be on track to gain recognized status as a campus chapter, the Lincoln Journal Star reported. The group had struggled to find a faculty adviser following the political battle that started when a graduate student-lecturer confronted and made an obscene hand gesture at a student recruiting for Turning Point.

The August 2017 incident led to questions about whether the student was sitting in a free speech area when she distributed her information. It also led to state lawmakers warning of bias against conservative students and university regents adopting new commitments to free expression.

The group’s attempts to start a campus chapter were further out of reach following the incident because many faculty members opposed the group’s “Professor Watchlist.” The group said the list exists to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”

Benjamin Terry, an associate mechanical engineering professor, said students who want to start the chapter should be given the chance.

“I’d hate to think that a student group could be excluded simply because some disagree with their equally well-thought-out viewpoints,” Terry said. “I’ve never had any problems advising student groups in the past, and I don’t anticipate that this group will be any different.”

Amanda Gailey, an associate English professor who was added to the “Professor Watchlist,” said she found it disheartening that a colleague chose to advise a group that targets professors who have opposing political views.

Grant Carstens, president of the university’s Turning Point chapter, said the list is “a way for conservative students to know what they are getting into when they take classes from certain professors.”

“It’s not about going out to harass them,” he said.

Carstens said the group wants to work to broaden the school’s free-speech guidelines, once it gains recognized status on campus.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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