The University of Washington College Republicans have lost their status as a registered student organization at UW after Chandler Thorton, the College Republican National Committee chairman, contacted a university administrator and stated that the UW College Republicans are an “illegitimate” chapter that “continues to engage in hurtful and inappropriate conduct.”
Thorton explained in his letter that the UW Republicans had their charter revoked in April of 2018, adding that the national committee “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.”
The UW College Republicans have received criticism from both state democratic and republican leaders over the years; in May, the club held an “affirmative action bake sale” where prices for baked goods depended on race and gender. This event was denounced by Washington College Republican Federation president Jack Pickett in an email to the UW Republicans, which was posted on the club’s Facebook page with the caption: “Weak Republicans don’t support real protests that seek to solve real problems. We will not back down to liberals or [Republicans in name only] alike!”
The club also faced backlash for inviting controversial far-right activist Milo Yiannopoulos to campus in 2017, as well as for a “freedom rally” in 2018 that included self-described “Western chauvinist” group Proud Boys, whose members are infamous for neo-fascist rhetoric and inciting violence. Former WSU College Republicans president James Allsup was also present at the rally, who had previously resigned from his position after being identified at Charlottesville’s “Unite the Right” rally alongside proud Klansmen, white nationalists and neo-Nazis.
The UW College Republicans no longer have the university’s financial support and will be losing their email account, existing campus room reservations, and office space. UWCR president Armen Tooloee is currently threatening legal action against the Washington College Republican Federation and says his club is seeking advice from attorneys at Freedom X, a California firm that represented them in an earlier lawsuit against UW.
In an interview with The Daily, Tooloee said “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… I feel like we haven’t actually done anything wrong.”
The UW College Republicans sent an email out to their subscribers on Oct. 30 stating that they’re “under attack” and urged them to contact Caleb Heimlich, chairman of the Washington State Republican Party, to demand that he voice support for their organization.
UW spokesperson Victor Balta said in a press release that “the national organization has requested that the UW recognize the Husky College Republicans as the official College Republicans chapter on campus. Any inquiries about this decision should be directed to the College Republican National Committee. If the group previously known as the College Republicans at the University of Washington wishes to request registration under a new name, it is welcome to do so.”