Turning Point USA builds third free speech wall on CSU Plaza

Stuart Smith

For the third time in three semesters, a free speech wall constructed from cardboard boxes was built on the Lory Student Center Plaza at Colorado State University Wednesday afternoon.

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However, while the last two walls were built by the Conservative Interest Group of Colorado, Wednesday’s wall was built by Turning Point USA, a non-partisan, conservative political group aimed at younger Americans.

Much like the last two, the wall was designated as a place for anyone to be able to write what they wanted without repercussions.

For Turning Point USA, the goal was simply to speak to people and remind them of their First Amendment rights.

“We’re just hoping to talk to as many people as possible, and get as many people to sign on the wall as we can,” said Will Witt, the Rocky Mountain field director for Turning Point USA. “We want … people to recognize that the Constitution is a beautiful thing and that the First Amendment is a beautiful thing. Without, that it wouldn’t really be America.”

Though the goal of wall was intended remind people of their rights, Witt said that they would also welcome anyone interested in joining the group.

“If there are students who like our message and what Turning Point’s about, we love to always have more people come and join us,” Witt said. “We’re really trying to get all sorts of people to come in.”

Unlike the last two free speech walls, there was not much outrage from students. While the wall was spray painted before the group packed it up, the student reactions to the wall differed from past walls built on the Plaza.

The first free speech wall was built last October by the Conservative Interest Group of Colorado, an organization led by CSU student Juan Caro, and the large reaction by students took up nearly half the Plaza. Around 75 students gathered around the wall in October before it was taken down, and one student stabbed through a cardboard box with a pair of scissors.

A second free speech wall was built in February this year by CIG in a counter demonstration to a rally organized by Dreamers United, which was not political in nature.

Dreamers United held an event in collaboration with FWD.us to show their support for undocumented immigrants and for immigrants impacted by one of President Donald Trump’s earliest executive orders, a travel ban that banned travelers from six different countries in the Middle East. The travel ban directly affected three CSU students.

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While both free speech walls eventually led to real conversations about issues between students, they both began with anger and hostility between the people involved.

While the wall built Wednesday did not gain as much attention from the general student body as the other two, mainly due to the walls position on the side of the Plaza, the people that did walk up acted friendly and were open to conversation, accomplishing the goal Witt described.

“We’re really just trying to have a diversity of thought on campus,” Witt said. “You don’t get to hear a lot of these values much, college campuses are pretty liberal-centric … so having a different voice and having conversations with all sorts of different people is what we really aim to do.”

Collegian news reporter Stuart Smith can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @notstuartsmith.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Dreamers United planned an event in February in response to President Donald Trump’s travel ban and incorrectly implied that the event was political. Dreamers United planned and held the event in collaboration with FWD.us to show their support for immigrants, and it the event was not political in nature.