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The College Republicans club at the University of Washington had already lost its national and state recognition over its apparent affiliations with far-right groups. Now, one “affirmative action” bake sale later, the campus won’t recognize the student group either.
The conservative, student-run group had been panned for hosting a bake sale in May where prices varied based on race and gender to demonstrate affirmative action policies. The event sparked protests. And the campus is now offering the “College Republicans” title to another student group at the national organization’s request.
College Republicans at the University of Washington have also hosted events that brought members of far-right group Patriot Prayer, the Proud Boys, and Milo Yiannopoulos to campus. And those events sometimes required that the university hire intense security to deal with sometimes violent protesters. When the club brought Yiannopoulos to campus in 2017, for example, a 29-year-old shot an anti-fascist protester outside the student event.
The group has been operating illegitimately since it lost its charter all the way back in April 2018, according to The Daily, the school’s student newspaper.
This isn’t the first time there’s been an obvious clash between the ideologies of national, state, and campus student-run Republican groups, either. At Arizona State University, a College Republicans group split into one far-right club and another more moderate club. That led to fractured College Republicans groups on campuses across the country. And since then, in some instances, far-right and sometimes blatantly white-nationalist groups have recruited new members from college campuses.
“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,” Chandler Thornton, the national chairman of the College Republican National Committee, wrote in a letter to the University of Washington’s dean of student life, Denzil Suite, according to a Facebook post from the College Republicans on campus.
The chairman of the state Republican Party, Caleb Heimlich, has also previously criticized the group for offensive tweets, including one from July that said Democrats had a “GloboHomo” agenda.
The president of the University of Washington College Republicans, Armen Tooloee, told the Daily News that they weren’t aware they weren’t officially recognized by the national or state groups, and they plan to reorganize as a club under another name. On Nov. 6, the group’s members will lose club-affiliated email accounts, room reservations, and campus office space, according to The Daily.
“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,” Tooloee told the paper. “It feels unfair, and I feel like we haven’t actually done anything wrong.”
The group also wrote on Twitter Wednesday that “RINOs” — Republicans in name only — were unfairly maligning the group. Tooloee also told the Seattle Times that the state and national organizations consider his club racist, which he denies.
“Yet another example of establishment R’s silencing real conservatives!” the group wrote.
Cover image: (Lara Hata via Getty Images)