Turning Point USA, a conservative activism club (non-profit,) opened an unofficial chapter on campus this spring, meeting mixed responses.
“Turning Point USA (TPUSA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 2012 by Charlie Kirk (a conservative activist),” says the TPUSA website. "The organization’s mission is to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government. Turning Point USA believes that every young person can be enlightened to true free market values.”
The organization has over 1,000 chapters on college and high school campuses. Its founder, Charlie Kirk, is active in its functioning. Kirk serves as the chairman of the Students for Trump club. He was ranked as the seventh most influential Republican under the age of 30 by Forbes.
On the website, several resources are on display including a list of contributors, a live video feed, and a “Professor Watchlist.” The mission of the Professor Watchlist is to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom," the watchlist description says.
To be an official campus chapter through the organization, students must complete a process set out by the national headquarters which includes signing a charter agreement and code of conduct.
Students registered Taylor University as an official chapter through the organization, prior to their first meeting. Since then, the official status of the club has changed. The reason for this shift is not clear; the club is now operating in an unofficial capacity.
The club is still in action though, both online and in person.
Three students founded the club presence at Taylor: sophomores Kade Werner and Peter Crowe and freshman Jordan Taylor, who all live in Wengatz.
“We started Turning Point here at Taylor University with the goals of fulfilling the club’s mission while also giving students space and the opportunity to come and speak their mind and hear their fellow students' opinions on important topics going on today in our great nation,” Werner said.
To do this, the trio started an Instagram page to advertise the new chapter. The page garnered quite the following from students on campus.
But after some discriminatory comments were made on a post, the account was reported and later deleted by Instagram.
Several controversial comments made on the post were about correct pronoun use, freedom of speech and the importance of masks.
“Wow, people can’t just stand conservatives who love their country,” one user replied to a comment made by freshman Carolyn Nevins regarding the nationalistic tendencies of the club. “But it is a good thing I don’t care about your opinion … we live in a country with freedom of speech.”
Nevins found the remarks troubling.
“I worry that resorting to personal attacks when people feel threatened will push people further away rather than invite discussion and open-mindedness,” Nevins said.
Some students have other thoughts on the topic.
“If there were bad comments made, you should never take down the entire page,” junior Mitch De Jong said.
While the Instagram account was under revision and unable to use, group leaders communicated on a platform called Squad Pod, which cannot be deactivated.
Soon after the original Instagram account was deleted, the student founders created another account.
In their first post on the new account, they addressed the event.
The club has used Instagram to communicate meeting times and places as well.
Through direct message, they invited one student, freshman Talique Taylor. They told him TPUSA would meet unofficially and not affiliated with Taylor University in Euler room 108. The meeting actually occurred in Euler room 109.
As of Feb. 22, the club has met once and plans to meet more.
De Jong said topics such as identity politics and fiscal responsibility were discussed.
“Apart from the lack of wearing masks, which made me nervous, the group has a lot of potential to start good conversations on campus,” Taylor said. “I wish they had started their own organization rather than affiliating with the national Turning Point chapter, I think they could be more effective on their own.”
TPUSA at Taylor plans to meet weekly moving forward.