Student leaders should disaffiliate with Turning Point USA

The Collegian

Editor’s note: This is an editorial. Editorials do not reflect the view of all employees of the Collegian, but instead represent a stance taken by the Collegian’s editorial board, which consists of the editor-in-chief, the managing editor, the digital production manager, the news editors, the opinion editor, the sports editor and the arts and culture editors.

Liam Aubrey, a presidential candidate for CSU student government, recently renounced his affiliation with Turning Point USA, the conservative group that has, quite suddenly, created a lot of controversy on this campus. We think other conservative leaders should do the same.


Conservative students have a right to free speech. They have a right to start student organizations on campus. They even have a right to endorse a candidate for student government president, if they see fit. In fact, they did just that in 2017, and that candidate won. But, Turning Point USA poses a new threat to our campus that other conservative student organizations do not.

Turning Point USA is a national organization with strong rhetoric and smart branding. “Big Government Sucks!” “Socialism Sucks,” and “I think, therefore I am a conservative,” are just a few of the most popular signs and slogans. The organization’s stated mission is to train and organize students to promote freedom, free markets and limited government. Those are clear, traditional conservative values.

But, Turning Point USA is doing more than just rallying students behind capitalism and small government. It’s also — potentially illegally — funneling money into student government elections, allegedly fostering an atmosphere that is hostile to minorities in its highest ranks, maintaining a “watch list” of professors who promote a “radical agenda in lecture halls,” and inviting speakers to college campuses that seem to damage to their very simple, innocent message.

The daily paper for Ohio State University, The Lantern, found through leaked text messages and audio that TPUSA secretly set aside $6,000 for one student campaign, and The Chronicle of Higher Education reported the same trend on other campuses. Internal Turning Point documents obtained by a New Yorker reporter in December suggest that the organization may have broken campaign-finance laws that bar charitable nonprofits from participating in political activity.

Secretly funding student government campaigns and breaking campaign finance law isn’t exactly a way to foster trust between the organization and campus. Similarly, hosting Milo Yiannopoulos at CU Boulder in January 2017 was a strange choice that damages the organization’s credibility. Yiannopoulos is known for his divisive rhetoric, notably calling feminism “cancer” and Islam a “lifestyle choice,” during his speech at CU. He is commonly referenced as a figure who brought the alt-right into the mainstream.

Only a month after Boulder hosted him, Yiannopoulos resigned from Breitbart when a video of him endorsing pedophilia resurfaced online. Leaked emails to Buzzfeed from his time at Breitbart show Yiannopoulos consulted with white supremacists about Breitbart content, and a leaked video shows him singing “America the Beautiful” in a Dallas karaoke bar while the crowd watching, including white nationalist Richard Spencer, raised their arms in a Nazi salute.

Last month, TPUSA’s chapter in Boulder invited Ann Coulter to speak on campus. Coulter is a social and political commentator famous for her bestselling book and controversial columns. Coulter is known for intensely anti-immigrant rhetoric (saying President Trump’s Sh*thole comments were meant to “win her back” in a tweet), Islamophobic comments (calling Islam a “car-burning cult,” for example) and aggressively anti-choice comments (saying we should make abortions for liberal women compulsory in a tweet).

Beyond TPUSA’s speaker invitations, who only appear to cause controversy and divisiveness in favor of real dialogue, the organization itself has allegations of racial bias at the highest levels. New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer was provided screenshots of messages from Crystal Clanton, who worked in TPUSA until summer 2017 as the national field director, that said, “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all … I hate blacks. End of story.” Clanton left the organization soon after the incident, and Charlie Kirk, the founder of TPUSA, said they took decisive actions for the incident.

Conservative students can and should find a better organization that more accurately and sincerely promotes their values, instead of one that only pretends to.

When Kirk, the founder of TPUSA, and former Breitbart contributor, came to CSU in early February, white nationalists made it clear days before that they would come to counter any protesters for the event. Protesters, antifa and a group of white nationalists showed up outside, and protests began to turn violent until the police dispersed them.

As we wrote in an editorial at the time, we acknowledge that this group of white nationalists was not affiliated with TPUSA. But, we find it disturbing that this group imagines that they are and perhaps they imagine they are on Kirk’s side because he claims white privilege is a myth, and his organization invites radical speakers to college campuses.


Students Against White Supremacy demanded that Turning Point USA be banned from campus — not conservative students. We are disappointed that on this campus, in only a matter of a few months, the two have become one in the same as a product of good marketing skills and the organization’s $10 million budget.

Aubrey lost his community for his sudden disaffiliation: He was not even invited to the meeting conservative students held with candidates on Wednesday night, though one could speculate that his political beliefs as a registered republican have not changed. He likely just didn’t want to be associated with a group that is increasingly wrapped up in controversy that has nothing to do with its stated mission.

No, it is not fair that conservative students at CSU are being tried as white supremacists on social media because of their affiliation to Turning Point. It only further divides us and shows a lack of empathy for those on the opposite side of the political spectrum.

But, to align with TPUSA is to do more than align with freedom, free markets and limited government — it is to align with an organization that has on a national scale aligned itself with members of the alt-right and that has proven itself to be untrustworthy and uninterested in productive dialogue. Other students have disbanded and dismantled chapters on their campus. 

Turning Point USA’s actions run counter to conservative values, even if its rhetoric does not. Conservative students can and should find a better organization that more accurately and sincerely promotes their values, instead of one that only pretends to.