Turning Point USA supports fiscal responsibility, limited government and free markets. Photo courtesy of Turning Point USA Facebook page.
ALI HANSON | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
On Nov. 29, Student Government Association voted against sponsoring Turning Point USA.
Turning Point USA gave a presentation at the previous SGA senate meeting to ask for sponsorship from SGA. Turning Point USA is a non-profit organization founded by Charlie Kirk to educate students about topics like fiscal responsibility, limited government and free markets, according to the Butler University Turning Point USA page.
Turning Point USA is a student organization. It is headed by the president, Kathleen Berry. The group has three other executive members: Gabby Moline as vice president, Nathan Atkins as treasurer and Hannah Kurath as secretary. It is not an official group on campus yet, which is why they want SGA sponsorship. They also would like help from SGA to pay for a big speaker to come each spring to talk to campus about the values the group upholds.
Other Turning Point groups on campuses have received criticism. A TPUSA group on the campus of the University of Wisconsin this month was at first denied status as an official group by their student government because of concerns that the group endangers members of the trans and gender fluid community. The vice chancellor of Student Affairs overrode their decision and approved the student chapter after reviewing the vote.
Berry started planning to create a TPUSA group during the summer, and in August she met with her executive members. They are recognized as a chapter within the national group itself and they have a faculty adviser on campus, James McKneight. They planned what they would like to do if they were to become a group on campus. They would have a monthly meeting to discuss current events and watch videos. Also, the organization would host a table outside areas on campus to have conversations with students about their values. Other activities for members would include games and speakers.
“The main goal is to teach,” Berry said. “The first thing is education and educating students about fiscal responsibility and the principles of limited government. So, basically how capitalism works within America and why we think that’s a good thing.”
Berry said the group is non-partisan. Their goals may be what are typically seen as conservative values, but Berry argued that people from multiple political affiliations can have fiscal ideas similar to TPUSA’s.
“It is a non-partisan, non-profit organization, but people who align themselves with feeling strongly about capitalism tend to be more conservative-leaning students but it is a wide breadth of students who are involved in TPUSA,” Berry said.
Berry had hoped SGA would approve them and allow them to be a group on campus. Without the approval, she said they will re-apply.
James McKneight, the faculty adviser for TPUSA at Butler, advises a few groups on campus, including Pre-Law Society and the unofficial golf club.
“I firmly believe college campuses should promote free speech and feature multiple ideas and groups across campus,” McKneight said about why he signed off on being TPUSA’s faculty adviser.
Christina Barraclough, junior history anthropology major, said she did not want TPUSA approved.
“I certainly don’t want that presence,” Barraclough said. “That’s not just because I don’t like what they have to say or what they do at the colleges that I’ve seen on social media… but it’s because I am in a club that is trying to promote diversity and I know clubs like that really need to get amped up and they do not get the support from SGA. It would be annoying to see Turning Point be supported and funded by SGA when there are literally dozens of groups on campus that need that support and don’t receive it.”
Barraclough brought up how she follows Charlie Kirk on social media and other Turning Point USA groups on college campuses. She said she sees a lot of hateful comments that disrespect people of certain minority groups. She is afraid that if SGA approves this group, then similar things will happen on this campus. She is even more concerned about what speakers they would bring to campus.
“Sometimes you have to look at what someone does and not what they say they are, and this has occurred before and this is the case now,” Barraclough said. “Frankly, I don’t believe they deserve funding to bring in any sort of speaker when, again, there are a dozen groups who would love and who have been trying to bolster the ideas of the university.”
Berry said she would try to get speakers on campus to talk about fiscal responsibility and capitalism, but Barraclough doubts that.
“Bring me a person that only talks about fiscal responsibility to students, and money and the benefits of capitalism,” Barraclough said. “Invite him or her because that would be great. Sadly, that person does not exist. Not for Turning Point USA and I am confident on that.”
Laura Allaben, first-year history and political science major, was at first unsure if SGA should approve TPUSA. She could see both sides of the situation.
“If you’re going to have a Christian group on campus, and a secular group comes forward and wants a place on campus, you have to allow them access,” Allaben said. “That’s kind of the beauty of the U.S. Constitution. But also you don’t want to make people uncomfortable or scared.”
Allaben had heard about concerns from students on other campuses and reports of TPUSA groups having criticism directed toward them. However, she saw the advantage of having multiple viewpoints available on campus.
“If we’re talking about equality, even if the group isn’t speaking about equality, there could be a level of equality in letting one end of the spectrum group meet, you have to let the other end of the spectrum group meet,” Allaben said.
Allaben mentioned there are leftist groups on campus that are vocal about their ideas and are able to table. She agrees with that, but she also believes that the other side should be valued to the same degree.
Hannah Stroup, first-year English and secondary education major, said TPUSA should get approval.
“I think of myself as a moderate because I am a social liberal and fiscal conservative, and so I think it’s important to be educated on both sides,” Stroup said. “Because this is a non-partisan education, I think it is a really good way to educate people about fiscal responsibility and free markets.”
Stroup believes education and communication is very important everywhere in the world, but especially on college campuses.
“I think that contrasting viewpoints is incredibly important in communities,” Stroup said. “Not just on college campuses, but in classrooms and cities and states and countries and the world because that way you get to see the whole spectrum.”