Turning Point comes to campus
Josh LaBella – Managing Editor
Jenna Dower, senior and media studies major, said her goal for a Turning Point USA chapter on campus would be an organization for both political parties to have civil discussions about U.S. politics.
Dower, the president of the chapter, said when she transferred she did not see an organization on campus for students to come together and have a “nice discussion.”
Turning Point USA is a non-profit organization. Their website stated their mission is “to educate students about the importance of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government.”
“I wanted to start that as something big on campus,” said Dower. “I have recently become very political. I had watched Candace Owens and Charlie Kirk [Turning Point USA’s director of communications and executive director] on Fox News and got really interested in their organization. So I reached out to them and said ‘this is something I would love to do on campus.’”
Dower said she and her members are in the process of becoming an official club.
She said they still need to get an adviser and meet with the Student Government Association to get approved. Dower said when they had a table event the week before they were well received.
“We were on campus last week and we got 196 signatures from professors, workers, students – we saw a lot of people,” said Dower. “It was such a great experience. I enjoyed every part of it.”
According to Dower, she did not know that the College Democrats or College Republicans existed on campus when she decided to start the chapter.
She said in the process of getting things started she reached out to Sarah O’Connor, the president of College Republicans, for help.
“She [O’Connor] suggested we not start a TP [Turning Point] chapter,” said Dower. “I still wanted to push forward with what I started.”
O’Connor said she has been to a few Turning Point events and that the organization has changed since it first started. However, she said they have helped grow the political divide of the country.
O’Connor said Turning Point cannot do the things College Republicans can do—such as endorsing, getting funding from candidates and donating
to them, and door knocking— because they are a non-profit. She said she cannot support Turning Point because of how divisive they are.
O’Connor said the message of Turning Point does not resonate with the message of being a social justice university.
“I don’t know these people,” said O’Connor. “I don’t know where their heads are at but from a national standpoint Turning Point loves to do table events and say really radical things that spread hatred. When we do table events we spread information about local candidates. It’s two completely different things.”
She said she is not saying that the Southern chapter of Turning Point will do the things that the organization does nationally.
“They say radical things that upset a lot of people,” said O’Connor. “Their communications director, Candace Owens, publicly went on Twitter and started bashing victims from the Me Too movement.”
O’Connor said the message of Turning Point does not resonate with Southern’s message of being a social justice university. She said she is not saying that the Southern chapter of Turning Point will do the things that the organization does nationally.
Justin Gendron, president of College Democrats, said he did not know much about Turning Point when he was told by O’Connor that students were trying to start a chapter on campus. He said he did know about “the diaper thing.”
“So Kent State, their [Turning Point] chapter there, wore adult diapers and sucked on pacifiers to parody cry baby liberals,” said Gendron. “I knew that was a thing but did not know it was a Turning Point thing.”
Gendron said as he researched the group more he found out a lot of “interesting” things about them. He said he cannot speak for what a Southern chapter may do – only what other chapters and their leadership have done.
“Tweets from the Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens are just filled with such poison,” said Gendron. “Whenever they speak, it’s not to inform. It’s more to attack. At Southern we don’t do that.”
Gendron said he does not think Turning Point is conducive to the message of social justice. He said it was hard to imagine that 196 people signed up for Turning Point on campus.
“This means we have to be careful,” said Gendron. “We have to remember who’s who. We have to remember that there is College Republicans and, if this club becomes an official club, that there is Turning Point.”
Dower said at the end of the day the club gets their talking points from Turning Point national. She said the club is non-partisan but does stand for smaller government and free market values.
“But we aren’t judgemental,” said Dower. “We want a place on campus for everybody to come together and discuss.”
Carly Holding, an early childhood education major and vice president of the prospective club, said their goal is not to attack anyone or make them feel that their views are wrong.
“We’re open [to] anyone from any political background,” said Holding. “Whether someone is a republican, democrat, independent, conservative, liberal, libertarian – it doesn’t matter. Our main mission, as a club and as a unit, is to be able to make a home for people to come and learn and talk freely without feeling judged or discriminated against.”
Photo Courtesy: Justin Gendron, Jenna Dower