Freedom Caucus Endorses Candidates In University Of Wyoming Student Election

The Wyoming Freedom Caucus has taken the unprecedented step of endorsing two candidates in the upcoming student government election at the University of Wyoming.

Leo Wolfson

April 01, 20245 min read

University of Wyoming student candidates Gabe Saint, left, and JW Rzeszut have received endorsements from the Wyoming Freedom Caucus.
University of Wyoming student candidates Gabe Saint, left, and JW Rzeszut have received endorsements from the Wyoming Freedom Caucus. (Courtesy Photo)

The Wyoming Freedom Caucus has been growing its influence in state Republican circles, and now is expanding more by getting involved in University of Wyoming student politics.

As the Wyoming Legislature continues to debate policy and programming at the state’s only public university with some claims that UW has drifted to the left politically and stifles free speech, the Freedom Caucus has given its endorsement to a pair of candidates running for student government roles at the school.

The students, juniors Gabe Saint and JW Rzeszut, are running for president and vice president positions in the university’s student government. Saint is president of the school’s chapter of Turning Point USA, a student-led conservative group founded by activist Charlie Kirk.

“It’s really cool to see legislators getting involved with our campaign and the election,” Saint said of the Freedom Caucus endorsement. “If we win, it will foster a more positive relationship with the university and with the state government.”

To say that student elections at UW don’t typically get statewide attention would be an understatement. The decisions made by student government are limited to university activities and run subservient to the school’s publicly elected board of trustees.

Conservatives Supporting Conservatives

But state Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette, chairman of the Freedom Caucus, believes showing support for conservative students at UW is the right thing to do. Bear said he doesn’t view the endorsement as a recruitment tool, but rather a showing of solidarity with conservative thought on campus.

“Personally, it has to do with encouraging young conservatives to stand up,” Bear said. “It’s a way of trying to provide encouragement because conservatives have been getting downtrodden as a certain minority on campus as UW is becoming more woke.”

Artemis Langford, a transgender student at UW who was involved in a well-publicized lawsuit with certain sorority members at the school, is running for a Senate seat in the student government.

Rep. Karlee Provenza, D-Laramie, represents a sizable portion of the UW campus in her district. She doesn’t believe the Freedom Caucus endorsements are appropriate, nor does she plan to endorse any student candidates of her own.

“I’m not interested in the further politicization of the university,” she said. “It’s probably best to let them continue to be an educational institution for our state and not a political apparatus.”

The UW student elections are nonpartisan.

Some conservatives in the Legislature have taken an opposite stance in recent years, arguing there should be more partisanship in Wyoming, not less.

Spotlight On The School

Saint, a Douglas native, believes his viewpoints represent a “silent majority” on campus.

But he also admits the Freedom Caucus has a “real bad” reputation on campus.

“Which is wrong,” he said. “They really just want what’s best for everybody between the students and people of Wyoming.”

The presence of the school’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Office has become a significant issue on campus as the Legislature sought to defund it and all related programming.

At a March board of trustees meeting, UW President Ed Seidel committed to continuing this program despite the Legislature’s moves, and Gov. Mark Gordon line-item vetoed the part of the biennial budget that would have prohibited the use of state funds for the DEI office.

Bear said these actions defy the wishes of social conservatives in Wyoming who are concerned with the direction they believe the school is headed.

“The president, administration, trustees — all need to be listening to their constituents,” Bear said. “If they’re not listening to the parents, maybe they will at least listen to the students.”

Maybe Not So Bad?

Although Saint said he has issues with DEI, he supports the school’s vice president for DEI, Zebadiah Hall.

He also supports Seidel, who has been blamed by many conservative legislators for what they see as a leftward creep at the university. Saint said Seidel is well aware of this perception and is doing his best to listen to the public about it.

Free speech has been another hot-button issue at the school and UW assembled a working group last year to tackle it.

The Freedom Caucus hosted a town hall rally at the school last November with Turning Point, where Bear said he was told by a number of students that free speech has been “squelched” on campus and they were afraid to be outspoken.

Saint said legitimate progress has been made on this front.

“I think we’re in a place where everyone is happy about that,” he said.

But Saint also wants to see the school become more accepting and supportive of all extracurricular organizations at the university, which he believes would help boost student enrollment.

“The school should want to preach unity and grace, no matter whether you’re a cowboy or cowgirl,” he said.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

Share this article



Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter