The Trinity University Student Chapter of Texas Freedom Network is now an established group on campus and is open to all interested students.

This newly registered club is a student branch of the state organization Texas Freedom Network, a nonpartisan grassroots organization based in Austin. Aside from Trinity, the organization has various chapters on university campuses statewide, including Southern Methodist University, University of Texas at Austin and University of Houston.

Founded in 1995, TFN is an organization that involves itself with pressing issues in the state of Texas. In essence, the organization acts as the state’s watchdog. They look to protect religious freedoms, defend civil liberties and strengthen the public school system in Texas. The organization monitors right-wing issues, institutions, money and politicians.

TFN is also one of the leading groups in Texas responsible for defeating initiatives laced with religious intent, including textbook censorship at the Texas State Board of Education. TFN refers to itself as “the resource of record on the religious right in Texas.”

The Trinity University Student Chapter of Texas Freedom Network hopes to accomplish much of these same goals.

“The work TFN does is important to me because I am a strong supporter of the separation of church and state,” said Michelle Clifford, a junior sociology major.

Since 2006, TFN has been heavily involved in youth activism, especially through its establishment of official student organizations on campuses in Texas. These chapters have been known to host a variety of events ranging from petition campaigns to issue forums.

Erin McCann, a senior environmental policy major and political science minor, hopes to get involved with Texas Freedom Network.

“I’m interested in TFN because it aims to promote equality and freedom in issues that aren’t necessarily popular or that don’t get a lot of attention in Texas,” McCann said. “These issues range from topics like the teaching of evolution in public schools to preventing hate crimes involving same-sex marriage–both of which I think are important to promote [awareness about as issues].”

Members of the TFN chapter at Trinity will promote these causes at a local and state level, as well as on the Trinity campus. Jean Larkin, founding president of the Trinity University Student Chapter of Texas Freedom Network, has voiced that the organization will focus on quality public education, the separation of church and state and proper sex education.

“TFN hopes to work with students, faculty and staff to foster an inclusive environment and encourage activism,” Larkin said.

Not only does the Trinity University Student Chapter of Texas Freedom Network give college students the chance to support or protest Texas policy issues, it also presents unique opportunities for its members to participate in exclusive experiences.

“Joining TFN has been the greatest experience,” Larkin said. “I’ve had a comprehensive tour of the state capitol and was able to learn more about the Texas state legislature. I lobbied on Capitol Hill with students from all over the world and founded relationships with phenomenal people.”

The Trinity University Student Chapter of Texas Freedom Network will hold its first meeting next week. Be sure to check out their Facebook page, TFN @ TU, for more details on upcoming meeting times.