School Rocket Team Made It to NASA Finals, Then Cali Regulations Step in


Liberal politicians often decry conservatives close-minded and intolerant, when in reality it is they who are exactly that toward those who aren’t beholden to progressive political orthodoxy.

For a prime example of this glaringly hypocritical duality, look no further than California’s AB 1887, which implemented a “travel ban” in 2017 on state officials traveling to eight different states which supposedly have laws on the books that are deemed as discriminatory toward the LGBT community.

That law prohibits state-funded or state-sponsored travel to Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee (check out their hilarious response) and Texas.

Unfortunately, that law just ruined the dreams — and potentially even future careers — of the Citrus College rocketry club, who are now prevented from traveling to Huntsville, Alabama, to take part in the prestigious annual NASA Student Launch competition, according to KABC.

The team known as the Rocket Owls from the small community college in Glendora earned one of only 60 spots in the highly competitive competition that includes teams from major Ivy League colleges, large universities and famed technical schools.

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Sadly, the college has decided to stand with the law instead of their own students, and tossed them a pathetic crumb as consolation in a statement which read: “The College stands with the State Chancellor, the Legislature and the Governor in support of AB 1887 as a response against discrimination.”

“As an alternative, the Rocket Owls will be participating in a rocket competition sponsored by Friends of Amateur Rocketry/Mars Society to be held in Mojave, California,” the statement added.

But a math professor at the college, Paul Swatzel, is hoping that the school will change their stance and allow the team to go to the competition if they are capable of raising enough in private funds to cover their costs — an exception allowed for in the law — even donating $500 of his own money to spur along the cause.

“To be an undergraduate, even more a community college student, to do something like this alongside Ivy League schools and top four-year schools across the country is quite an experience,” Swatzel stated.

Do you think California's anti-discrimination travel ban is absurd?

In a post to the rocketry team’s Facebook page — which revealed that the team traveled to the same competition in Alabama last year — Swatzel noted that five other California schools were being permitted to attend the competition this year using private funds, yet his team was still being prevented from going by the school.

That is because, according to the Citrus College Clarion, the school’s chancellor declared in August of 2017 that in support of AB 1887, no travel to banned states would be approved, “regardless of the funding source for the proposed out-of-state travel,” meaning even with private funds students won’t be allowed to attend the competition.

According to NASA’s index of teams invited to compete, the five California schools still involved in the competition include: California Polytechnic University – Pomona, California State University – Long Beach, University of California – Berkeley, University of California – Davis and University of California – Santa Cruz.

Campus Reform reported that this year’s competition had more applicants for the limited spots available than ever before, yet the small community college rocketry team was being denied their opportunity to shine on the national stage because of adoption agency laws in Alabama.

Yes, that’s right — it was a law passed in Alabama that permitted faith-based adoption agencies in the state to deny adoptions to gay couples that earned the state its slot on California’s travel ban list — obviously a law that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with a rocketry competition at a federally-owned NASA facility.

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Needless to say, the members of the team and Professor Swatzel are more than a little disappointed that politics has intruded upon their passion for rocketry, which is preventing them from taking part in “a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Please share this story on Facebook so everyone can see how California’s ridiculous laws against alleged “discrimination” have destroyed the dreams of a small school’s advanced rocketry team.

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Ben Marquis is a writer who identifies as a constitutional conservative/libertarian. He has written about current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. His focus is on protecting the First and Second Amendments.
Ben Marquis has written on current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. He reads voraciously and writes about the news of the day from a conservative-libertarian perspective. He is an advocate for a more constitutional government and a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, which protects the rest of our natural rights. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the love of his life as well as four dogs and four cats.
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