Turning Point USA’s posters continue to get torn down
The first half of the spring semester was riddled with vandalism for UMD’s Turning Point USA chapter.
The founder and President of UMD’s chapter, Caleb Anderson, says the group has had around 60 of its posters torn down from approved posting areas on campus. The posters have been taken down each of the 20 times they have been posted, meaning this wasn’t an isolated incident.
“A few posters here and there is not a big deal,” Vice President Trevor Toveson said. “We wouldn’t cause an uproar about that. But if you look at the bigger picture, as a recurring issue, the costs begin to add up.”
With each poster costing about $1 to $2, that would add up to $120 worth of damage, which for a campus organization is a lot.
These posters contained no hate speech, no violent attitudes towards any other group on campus, yet their posters were still ripped down from approved posting areas. It might not seem like a big deal to tear down a groups poster, but the message this sends is that certain views are not accepted on this campus.
“Of course we think it is an active minority on campus,” Toveson said. “We don’t think this is a wide ranging opinion. But there are people on campus who want to shut down our message, who don’t want us to exist on campus and we find that very troubling.”
Some of the posters were placed in strategic areas. Posters promoting the values of capitalism were placed in the coffee shop, where people use the freedoms of capitalism daily to purchase a cup of coffee. They were taken down.
Other posters, reading “Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right,” were placed high upon the pillars on the second floor of Kirby. They were also taken down.
“The fact that they went out of their way and got a chair or a ladder to tear down our posters shows that they’re committed to stifling our message and to hide our presence from people.” Toveson said.
Though the social stigma regarding conservative values and straightforward attitudes on college campuses is understandable, they are not intended as an attack on any other group on campus.
“A lot of Turning Point’s posters are very forward because if you’re bland and you don’t stick out amongst the crowd nobody pays attention,” Anderson said. “If people think that our organization is racist I would highly encourage them to talk to our communications direction, Candace Owens.”
According to their website, Turning Point USA is the fastest growing youth organization in America on a mission to educate students about the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government. Though these principles tend to align with more conservative views, UMD’s chapter tries to steer clear of any political labels.
“Our mission as an organization on campus is to be a platform for students to come to and educate themselves on certain issue focused political topics,” Toveson said. “They tend to be more conservative or libertarian beliefs but we are not a political organization in the sense that we don’t affiliate with or push for certain political candidates, we are more issue focused.”
This is because of an inherent pseudo conflict that exists when political affiliation is taken into account.
“If we start to focus on whether people in our organization are part of the Democratic or Republican Party then it becomes partisan,” Anderson said.
College campuses are a place where student minds should be molded by the freedom to explore all types of values.
“We welcome people to come up to our tables and engage in conversations with us and at the end of the day that’s what really allows for that creative thinking,” Anderson said.
The people at turning point have a message for those that don’t agree with their values:
“I would encourage them [the people tearing down their posters] to create their own posters that promote their view or counterpoint to what we’re saying,” Toveson said. “We would be more than happy to see that and to talk about it.”
Until then, they will continue to do what they have been doing.
“At the end of the day we will continue to table,” Anderson said. “We will continue to put up posters and I think that UMD should have a more immediate response to these issues, especially when they’ve proven otherwise in the past with other organizations.”