Turning Point USA’s CSU Chapter builds third free speech wall on Plaza

Blake O'Brien

For everyone but freshmen on campus, the cardboard barrier built of boxes and covered in scribbles on the Plaza probably was not an unfamiliar sight on Friday morning.

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This was the third time in two years that Turning Point USA’s Colorado State University chapter set up a “free speech wall” on campus, said Isabel Brown, president of TPUSA’s CSU chapter.  TPUSA is a student movement for free markets and limited government, according to the CSU Chapter’s website

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  • CSU students exercise their right to free speech outside on the LSC plaza. (Devin Cornelius | Collegian)

    Collegian | DEVIN CORNELIUS

  • CSU students write on their thoughts onto the free speech wall in the LSC Plaza. (Devin Cornelius | Collegian)

    Collegian | DEVIN CORNELIUS

  • CSU students write on their thoughts onto the free speech wall in the LSC Plaza. (Devin Cornelius | Collegian)

    Collegian | DEVIN CORNELIUS

  • CSU students exercise their right to free speech outside on the LSC plaza. (Devin Cornelius | Collegian)

    Collegian | DEVIN CORNELIUS

  • Blake Alfred, a junior journalism major and director of marketing strategy for ASCSU, writes on TPUSA’s free speech wall.

  • Turning Point USA set up another free speech wall, asking students whether conservative voices have a place on campus.

  • CSU students exercise their right to free speech outside on the LSC plaza. (Blake O’Brien | Collegian)

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Brown said that the group’s inspiration came from Turning Point chapters at other college campuses.

“This is a pretty frequent event put on across the country from TPUSA chapters on over a thousand college campuses,” Brown said.

Prior to Turning Point’s involvement, two larger and more controversial “free speech walls” were built on the Plaza by the Conservative Interest Group of Colorado and the College Republicans at CSU.  

Overwhelmingly, people – regardless of political affiliation – are pretty excited to just write whatever they feel today on our free speech wall. That’s really the importance of free speech is that it gives everyone, regardless of their background or opinion, the opportunity to share that with the world.” Isabel Brown, President of CSU’s chapter of Turning Point USA.

But, today’s wall was different from the others, Brown said.

“We’re focusing it on one specific topic,” Brown said.

Previously, “free speech walls” on campus were built as a general appreciation for the First Amendment, according to College Republicans at CSU. This time for TPUSA, Brown said, the demonstration was meant to ask students a specific question: Should conservative speakers be allowed to speak on campus, or not?

This comes on the heels of a discussion at the Associated Students of CSU Senate about the use of student fees to bring Dennis Prager, a conservative talk show host and writer, to campus Oct. 29. 

During the Oct. 4 Senate session, several current and former CSU students expressed their displeasure at the allocation of student fees to the University’s chapter of TPUSA for the purpose of the event, which was approved by the Board for Student Organization Funding previously. BSOF allocated $13,999 to the organization, and therefore the Senate did not need to be consulted on the funding, as Senate approval for BSOF proposals is only needed for amounts of $14,000 or more.

Brown said there were some responses to TPUSA’s question, but most people ignored the topic and used the wall as an opportunity to generally exercise their First Amendment rights.

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“People (were) more than welcome to talk about whatever else they want to on the free speech wall,” Brown said.

Phrases scrawled on the wall’s surfaces included:

  • “Make America Great Again”
  • “F*ck the Wall”
  • “Free Alex Jones”
  • “Put yourself in their shoes”

Unlike the original free speech walls, students gathered and spoke and wrote what they wanted to on the side of recycled cardboard boxes, Brown said.

“Overwhelmingly, people – regardless of political affiliation – are pretty excited to just write whatever they feel today on our free speech wall,” Brown said. “That’s really the importance of free speech is that it gives everyone, regardless of their background or opinion, the opportunity to share that with the world.”

One of the people excited to write on the wall was Blake Alfred, a junior journalism major and Director of Marketing Strategy for ASCSU.

Alfred wrote “Bring Back the Pitcher” near the center of the wall and slapped a sticker which read the same underneath because Alfred said his current mission is to bring pitchers back to the Ramskeller.

“I think it’s a good thing that students are coming out here and writing what they believe,” Alfred said. “Whatever end of the spectrum it comes from, everyone gets a say.”

Blake O’Brien can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @BtweetsOB.