Hagerstown Community College: Political Clubs Denied Freedom of Association

Category: Free Speech

On August 17, 2015, Hagerstown Community College (HCC) student Moriah DeMartino contacted Student Activities Coordinator Heather B. Barnhart to express interest in starting a chapter of the free market advocacy student group Turning Point USA (TPUSA) on campus. Barnhart rejected DeMartino’s application, telling her that DeMartino could instead start a Republican Club on campus, and only if a Democrat Club was formed at the same time. Dean of Student Affairs Jessica A. Chambers later clarified that DeMartino could not start a TPUSA chapter, or even a Republican or Democrat Club, and stated that DeMartino should instead join HCC’s already-existing Political Science Club, which Chambers judged to be sufficient for all politically oriented students. FIRE wrote to HCC on September 11, 2015, reminding HCC of its obligation to its students’ freedom of association rights under the First Amendment and asking that HCC only use narrow, content and viewpoint-neutral criteria when considering student groups’ applications for recognition.

  • College Faces Lawsuit After Refusing to Recognize a Conservative Club

    October 19, 2015

    By Peter Fricke at College Reform  Moriah DeMartino, a student at Hagerstown Community College, is suing the school for refusing to let her establish a conservative student group on campus, Hypeline reports. “There is a lack of consistency on campus when it comes to student organizations,” DeMartino told Hypeline. “I believe in fighting for my beliefs and my rights as an American.” In August, Campus Reform broke the story that HCC administrators had denied DeMartino’s request to establish a Turning Point USA chapter at the school, telling her that the club would “duplicate the purpose and mission of existing clubs,” […]

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  • Her College Refused To Let Her Start A Conservative Club- Now She’s Making Them Pay

    October 19, 2015

    By Jack Davis at Western Journalism  Faced with an “unconstitutional” denial of her rights by Hagerstown Community College (HCC), Moriah DeMartino is fighting back. The 22-year-old political science major has filed a lawsuit after the Maryland college refused to allow her to start a college chapter of Turning Point USA, a group that defends capitalism and supports limited government Turning Point USA’s founder Charlie Kirk called HCC’s action “censorship, pure and simple.” “Turning Point USA is a non-partisan group that educates students on fiscal responsibility. We are not partisan and our mission cannot be combined with other political groups,” Kirk said. “Hagerstown […]

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  • We’re Not Buying Hagerstown Community College’s Excuses for Denying Student Group’s Recognition

    September 17, 2015

    Moriah DeMartino, a student at Hagerstown Community College (HCC) in Maryland, attempted to start a Turning Point USA (TPUSA) chapter at her campus last month. Instead of granting recognition to the nonpartisan, free-market advocacy student group, HCC used DeMartino’s request as an opportunity to crack down not only on attempts to form a TPUSA chapter but on all attempts to form politically-motivated student groups. On August 17, DeMartino contacted HCC Student Activities Coordinator Heather B. Barnhart to ask if she’d spoken to Dean of Student Affairs Jessica Chambers about DeMartino’s interest in starting a TPUSA chapter. (Approval from both Chambers […]

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