The University of Washington College Republicans are no longer recognized as an official chapter of the national group on campus, as national and state College Republican leaders have deemed the UW group’s actions “hurtful and inappropriate.”
The national committee asked UW to take away the group’s status as a registered student organization, as first reported by The Daily of The University of Washington. The university is instead recognizing another club as an official chapter, and the UW College Republicans have the option to request to register under a new name, said university spokesman Victor Balta.
The national committee chairman contacted a university administrator last week, stating that the UW College Republicans are an “illegitimate” chapter that “continues to engage in hurtful and inappropriate conduct,” according to a letter posted on Facebook by the club. He said the club’s charter was revoked in April 2018.
The UW College Republicans have been criticized recently for social media posts deemed offensive by both state Democratic and Republican leaders, for bringing controversial speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos to campus and for hosting events that have drawn groups including the Proud Boys, a far-right group of men who describe themselves as “Western chauvinists” and are known for brawling at rallies. The club sued UW last year for trying to charge it for security fees for one such rally, and in the resulting settlement, UW agreed to pay $122,520 in legal fees.
The president of the UW College Republicans, Armen Tooloee, said Wednesday that the club didn’t know its charter was revoked. He said the Washington College Republican Federation failed to follow its own procedures. Tooloee said his club is seeking advice from attorneys at Freedom X, the California firm that represented them in their earlier lawsuit against UW.
Tooloee said national and state College Republican leaders have called the club “racist,” which he denied.
The state federation criticized the club for hosting an “Affirmative Action Bake Sale” this year, in which prices were dependent on race and gender, as previously reported by outlets including The Daily and The Stranger.
In an email sent to the club before the event, the state federation chairman said the fundraiser would reflect poorly on the College Republicans and Republican Party. That would be in violation of an agreement the club made with the state group to become recognized again, he said in the letter posted on Facebook by the UW group.
The UW College Republicans sent an email out to their subscribers Wednesday stating that they’re “under attack” and will lose their status as a registered student organization Monday. The email called on supporters to contact Caleb Heimlich, chairman of the Washington State Republican Party, to demand he voice support for their organization. Heimlich did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Registered student organizations receive benefits through the university including advertising, event planning, university email accounts, access to UW facilities and the ability to conduct fundraisers. The UW College Republicans could apply to become a registered organization without being a chapter of the College Republicans.