Controversial club pushes boundaries


by Ashley Smith, Editor-in-Chief

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Simpson College’s new communist organization is focused on “promoting the ideals of the communist party and uniting the Proletariat against the Bourgeoisie with collective might,” according to its constitution.

Senior Tyler Stokesbary, who is not a Communist, said he founded the Simpson College Communists in a day.

To start an organization on campus, the group must have an organizational constitution, an adviser who’s an employee of the college and register with the Office of Student Activities, according to Associate Dean of Students Rich Ramos.

“In my constitution, it says we ascribe to the beliefs of Karl Marx unless otherwise inconvenient. So pretty much don’t follow it, it doesn’t matter,” Stokesbary said.

The group’s constitution states, “To be considered a member one must have at least met one of the following requirements which are to attend at least one meeting per semester, warm blooded or involved in at least one protest a year against the Bourgeoisie.”

To opt out of membership, a student must contact the Simpson College Communists. As this paper was going to press, only two students—including this reporter—had opted out, said Stokesbary, who started the club mainly for laughs.

“Because of the election that’s going on, it’s just so crazy that I thought just to add to the mix, to the conservatives, or people who would subscribe to (Donald) Trump’s rhetoric would go, ‘Oh, the Communists are taking over,’ just to egg them on and stuff, so largely for laughs.”

Stokesbary said it is also a good example for his Simpson Colloquium students.

“I’m an SC leader, and so it’s kind of an example to my students that I created this joke organization in less than a day, and 40 people have signed their names to at least be interested in it.”

Stokesbary wanted the Student Government Association to fund his organization so he could say they funded a communist organization.

Stokesbary requested money from the SGA for buttons and candy to pass out at a table in Kent. He said their ultimate goal is to get enough money to get T-shirts.

The SGA voted to allocate $350 to the Communist Club during their Oct. 12 meeting.

The motion passed, with Junior Class President Nick Laning abstaining and Senior Sen. Teig Loge opposing the motion.

Loge could not be reached for comment.

Laning, who is also chair of the finance committee, said a group must meet some requirements to request funding.

“Once you’re registered as a student organization, you go to our Wufoo form on our website,, and you hit budget requests and you fill out the Wufoo with all the information,” Laning said.

He said the form requires budget account information, adviser information, a breakdown of how the organization will use the money and a copy of the organization’s constitution.

He said after that, the finance committee meets with someone from the group to ask them questions about the request.

“Sometimes those questions lead us to cut money from our request and sometimes it does, not very regularly, lead us to veto it in committee,” Laning said. “A lot of times if we have issues with it, we’ll still bring it to the SGA, it could get vetoed in the SGA, but we try to let the whole SGA be involved in decisions to veto a request.”

Stokesbary said the SGA funding the organization has its pros and cons.

“Now that can either be a good thing because it means they don’t care about what (the organization) is, as long as it benefits students they’ll give money to it,” Stokesbary said. “Or that can show that anybody on campus can create an organization within a day that’s completely a joke and get $350.”

The Simpson College Communists opens the door for other controversial organizations to take root on campus, Ramos said.

“I think that this is a perpetual issue on a lot of college campuses,” Ramos said. “The realities and the pluses and minuses of being at a small, private school, is that if there’s something that goes against our values and our mission and our purpose as a campus, we have the ability to say, ‘Yeah, that group is not starting here.’”

Laning said students have the right to be heard and share their viewpoints on campus.

“If you block off one idea or belief set, that opens up the gate to block off other ideas and belief sets. So we have to be open, if they meet our requirements, you receive funding,” Laning said.

Ramos encourages students to push boundaries like the Simpson College Communists.

“I think there’s some value from a campus community to push those boundaries like this,” Ramos said. “As long as it’s respectful and it’s tasteful, for lack of a better way of phrasing it, and it’s not going to hurt or harm anybody.”