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 Community College is playing political games and we have had enough.
DeMartino started by going through the usual channels. Then came a load of bureaucratic doublespeak. She was denied the chance to start the Turning Point USA chapter on two different grounds. For one, she was told that she could start a Republican Club, but not a Turning Point USA chapter, and then only if one specifically for Democrats was started at the same time. She was also told that the college would not start a group that duplicates the purpose of an existing club.
Groups focused on gay issues, a chapter of the National Organization for Women and a generic political science club are the extent of clubs linked to political science at HCC.
DeMartino persisted, even getting support from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
“HCC’s unwritten requirement on student groups not only is unconstitutional, but also raises immediate concerns about unfair double standards,” FIRE wrote in a letter to the college. “A student group’s ability to form on campus is not contingent on the desire of opposing groups to do the same.”
Even this did not change the college’s stance. DeMartino then hired a private lawyer and filed suit against the college.
“My ideal outcome would be that they reverse their policy and openly and willingly accept other students on campus for their views — whether it be political or not,” DeMartino said. “I just want every student to see what’s going on on campus and realize that they not just have their rights, but can take legal action if they have to if it comes to that.”
“My priority is my free speech right, is what it comes down to,” she said. “I don’t believe (HCC) has a right to tell a student, ‘we can’t have a political club on campus because it’s duplicating.’”