Student Government President at SW Missouri State Vetoes Recognition for Conservative Group · 19 October 2003


By Ryan Cooper

Three weeks ago, after careful revision and study, the Office of Student Activities approved the Constitution and Bylaws for Young Americans for Freedom. Other than textual errors in the first draft, Student Activities found no problem with YAF becoming a recognized group.

Opposition against YAF began before any Senator had even seen our Constitution. Members of our group were even told that once the approval process reached SGA, YAF would be "dead on arrival."

From the very beginning, SGA President Rafiel Warfield treated me with contempt and hostile. Even though over a dozen students attend our weekly meetings, Warfield was not convinced that YAF had the required four members. After resubmitting the membership form, Warfield informed me that SGA would vote on our group at the October 21st meeting.

Several members of our group wanted to attend the meeting on the 21st. A change in my Tuesday evening schedule allowed me to attend last week's meeting. I was shocked to discover that Warfield had purposely told me the wrong date!

Despite parliamentary attempts to table a vote and false accusations of harassment and discrimination, the SGA approved YAF 29-13, with 10 abstentions. I walked out of the SGA meeting that night with Warfield, who appeared more angry and hostile than usual.

Ironically, right after receiving a congratulatory phone call from SMS College Republican President Chris Lawson, Southwest Standard Editor Mandy Phillips called and informed me that Warfield vetoed approval for YAF. Again, Warfield refused to email any YAF member his five page explanation.

In his statement, Warfield gives seven examples of YAF misconduct. Not only are most of his reasons laughable, none have been deemed worthy of campus judicial action.

Warfield first claimed that YAF violated the "free speech zone" policy at the New Student Festival. We followed Jill Drake's orders and remained near the Bear Paw. Another campus group, Chi Alpha, didn't. Will Warfield soon revoke recognition rights for this group of "lawless" students?

After YAF chalked a response to an anti-war chalking by a leftwing campus group, Dr. John Taylor informed us of the sidewalk chalk policy. In the email, Taylor stated, "Any further violations of this policy by YAF may hinder the group becoming a recognized student organization, and could result in judicial action."

Warfield never consulted with Dr. Taylor and assumed that our chalking was grounds for non-approval, even though the email clearly stated the contrary. Again, will Warfield revoke the recognition rights of SUIP, which also violated the chalk policy?
Warfield then claimed that a parody printed in the first Bear Review, which he referred to as an "unrecognized student newspaper," was a "direct assault on a member of the SMSU student body." Warfield must believe that political parody can be a crime. Will the Standard become an "unrecognized student newspaper" if it prints satire?

In the fourth reason, Warfield claimed that the article entitled "Students Fight for Free Speech" in the second Bear Review was an "implicit statement that leads a reasonable man to believe that the organization does not plan to follow these policies in the future." Unless Warfield possesses a crystal ball or has psychic powers, he cannot predict what YAF will do in the future. His logic seemed to defy reason itself.

Warfield should have stopped at five, but instead continued to find even more incredulous reasoning. He claimed that I did not answer Senator Chris Moore's accusation of harassment. I clearly answered the question, indicating that Moore had requested membership in YAF at the New Student Festival, but later changed his mind. Due to a glitch in the YAF hotmail account, Moore continued to receive weekly email updates. I don't like receiving weekly emails from the COM department. Will Warfield derecognize the communications department?

The final "crime" committed by YAF is a series of incidents which Warfield described as "lawless action." Even though state and federal law permitted me to videotape last Tuesday's SGA meeting, Pres. Warfield believed it was illegal. He then mentioned that three SGA senators "have been targeted or have acquaintances that have been targeted and harassed by YAF," even though no charges of such has ever been filed.

At the SGA meeting on Tuesday, I said that some senators act like they have a "corncob stuck up their butts," in reference to their outright hatred toward YAF. I also said that SGA would be no better than "the good ole' boys club" of the South, which denied rights to women and minorities, if it denied us our right to exist on campus. Warfield believed that both statements are of criminal nature.

The absurdity ended with a claim that university officials felt "threatened and unsafe" around YAF members. Not once has a YAF member yelled at an administrator or threatened to have them arrested.

The one reason that Warfield failed to mention is the real reason why he vetoed our group. Warfield hates conservatives and doesn't believe that they should have any rights.

We need an SGA President who will fight for us, not against us. We need someone who will respect all students, even those that have opposing viewpoints.

Students elected a president and received a tyrant. Fortunately, we have the right to remove him from office. In the last Standard, Warfield claimed that we don't have the right to recall him. Once again, he's wrong.

I urge my fellow students to sign this recall petition. Together we can terminate Warfield from office.

Ryan Cooper is a student at Southwestern Missouri State University and the president of SMS Young Americans for Freedom. He can be reached at smsyaf@hotmail.com

Contact Southwest Missouri State University President John Keiser at President@smsu.edu

Contact Vice President for Student Affairs Don Aripoli at StudentAffairs@smsu.edu