Turning Point UK, a controversial right-wing political group, has been told by YUSU that ‘ratification can proceed’, with expectations set out if they wish to proceed.
TPUK York previously had their ratification rejected three times due to associations with the national organisation, concerns over the group’s social media and the potential for “reputational damage” that could be caused to YUSU and the University.
Ratification will proceed with a number of conditions. Correspondence with TPUK York, which was published on YUSU’s website, shows that these conditions include the completion of YUSU approved equality and diversity training in advance of any events or activities, and “swift consideration of any breach of the Code of Conduct including anything that threatens our expectations on equality and diversity”.
The Board of Trustees appeared to have a number of concerns, including the lack of formal constitution, and documentation on the funding of the society which is required by every YUSU group.
According to the correspondence, YUSU have requested a constitution “on several occasions”.
Despite these concerns, the Board said that “ratification was appropriate and reasonable in light of the responsibilities that the institution imposes upon the Students’ Union to uphold freedom of speech within the law”.
According to a statement made by Patrick O’Donnell, YUSU president, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, the decision to continue the ratification process was made from a “governance perspective”.
The right-wing political group’s website says that they are “dedicated to educating students and other young people on the values of free markets, limited government, and personal responsibility”.
Their parent organisation, Turning Point USA, have been embroiled in controversy for a number of years for running “Professor Watch List”, an online platform designed to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom”.
The correspondence shows that Turning Point UK York has assured that they would hold no affiliation with Turning Point USA.
Turning Point UK York has also assured YUSU that it will not participate in or promote any campaigns similar to Turning Point USA’s “Professor Watch List”, despite currently run a similar platform called “Education Watch”, where members are encouraged to send in evidence of “political bias in our education system”.
TPUK York has been the subject of parody in recent months, with up to seven twitter accounts parodying them.
One such account, @TurningPYork recently tweeted: “Eat my ass yusu”, causing the Board of Trustees to ask Turning Point UK York to confirm which of their social media accounts are official, and have offered support to “ensure that spoof accounts are deleted”.
The University of York’s Labour Club’s press officer, Tom Holderness said in a statement to Vision: “UYLC is very disappointed by YUSU’s decision to allow the ratification of Turning Point York”.
“We don’t oppose the discussion of free markets that TP purports to encourage, but are concerned by their association with the wider TPUK organisation, due to the worrying views held by some prominent members, which have included transphobia, and by allowing this ratification, YUSU risks being seen to endorse these beliefs”.
TPUK York has been approached for comment.