The Westfield Voice

The Student News Site of Westfield State University

The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

Westfield State University: Does Turning Point USA Have a Place Here?


WESTFIELD-Some Westfield State students attempted in the spring semester to create a chapter of Turning Point, a controversial conservative political organization, on campus, but other students fear the organization’s formation.

Since the beginning of March, members of the Turning Point organization have come on campus to promote their group by setting up a booth according to student critics.

Some of their visits brought controversial ideas that left some students deeply concerned.

In one of the instances, Westfield State student, Belle Croteau, reported that Turning Point was handing out pins, including “stay strapped” with an image of a revolver. Croteau was horrified by the pin as they were promoting gun rights a week after the Nashville School shooting.

“It’s insensitive to promote gun rights when so many people just died from a mass shooting the week before. I do not understand the logic behind it,” said Croteau.

Levi Ekstrom, president of the Queer-Straight-Alliance, was also uncomfortable with Turning Point USA’s presence on campus.

“The first time I walked by their booth, I was asked if I wanted to throw a snowball at a ‘commie,’ and when I asked why, the response was that it was fun to throw a snowball at Karl Marx. When I hear Karl Marx, I think of him being one of the first feminists, and after this, I knew the booth was not for me,” said Ekstrom.

When reaching out to all three WSU members of the organization at the end of the spring semester, Jason Brewster, the secretary of the chapter, Brian Brown, the president of the chapter, and Sarah Krutov, the chapter coordinator, all declined to be interviewed. Yet, in an email by Brewster, he stated that Krutov was trained by the organization.

On her Twitter feed, Krutov discusses details about body modification.

“So let me get this straight: you must be 18 to get a tattoo because it permanently alters your body, BUT a CHILD can get gender reassignment surgery without parental consent. A minor

having a little heart permanently on his ankle is so much more of a crime than cutting off little boys’ dicks,” said Krutov in a Twitter post.

In addition to Krutov’s comment about transgender identity, Ekstrom, a transgender individual, was significantly hurt again by Turning Point USA’s booth two weeks ago.

“I was uncomfortable to hear that they were debating with students whether or not ‘men could play on the women’s sports teams.’ This is awful for me to hear as a proud transgender person on campus, and this question is purposely treating trans women as something that they are not; it is disgusting,” said Ekstrom.

In reaching out at the end of the spring semester to LaRue Pierce, Vice President for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, he was aware of the controversy and conflicting views surrounding Turning Point USA. Even though Turning Point USA allegedly has a long history of racism and discrimination within the organization, Pierce remains firm in allowing everybody on campus the right to freedom of speech, even if it directly harms Westfield State’s values.

“Recognizing that Turning Point USA promotes certain policies and beliefs that may be in conflict with the values of some individuals in our community. As a public institution, we must respect and uphold the right to free speech and expression, even if we may not agree with the viewpoints being expressed,” said Pierce.

Brayden Cutler, a Westfield State University junior Public Administration major, as a Conservative and Libertarian, was unaware of the controversy surrounding the organization. Still, he knew about their beliefs that disregard the minority communities, such as LGBTQ and people of color.

“If they were to create a chapter here at Westfield State University, personally, it would not pose a threat to me. However, it would become a problem for me knowing that some people who are part of the minority communities are impacted by Turning Point’s agenda,” said Cutler.

The Westfield State Turning Point Chapter has yet to apply for recognition as an SGA club, as they do not meet the criteria of SGA’s Constitution. Daniel Currier, SGA Vice President of Finance, said at the end of the spring semester that SGA does not fund or support affiliated campus political clubs.

“Last year, SGA denied a left-wing organization known as MassPirg from forming an SGA-recognized club. It has long been the belief of SGA that we won’t accept clubs that are affiliated with outside political organizations since they would therefore be able to acquire public funding through SGA,” said Currier.

But the SGA President, Aaron Lessing, had a different perspective when interviewed at the end of the spring semester. Although Lessing is aware of the controversy surrounding Turning Point USA, they could potentially become a club if they were to satisfy the requirements and apply to become a recognized SGA club highlighted in the SGA constitution.

“Even if they did try to apply to become a recognized SGA club, at that point, we could not turn their club away. In our SGA constitution, we currently do not have a bylaw that supports or denies the entry of politically affiliated organizations,” said Lessing.

On Monday, April 24th, Currier did mention that SGA was going to propose the bylaw change on Tuesday, stating that SGA could not constitutionally accept or fund politically affiliated groups on campus, but SGA never brought up the proposal. SGA never brought up the proposal because legally, they could only implement it with legal guidance, according to SGA’s parliamentarian.

WSU’s SGA Parliamentarian Liam Connor was already familiar with Turning Point USA’s controversy and issues. However, accepting politically affiliated clubs on campus remains a complicated issue.

“Politically affiliated clubs that want to be SGA-recognized clubs remain tricky as we want to maintain a balanced campus. If we were to accept and fund Turning Point USA, meeting the criteria of SGA’s constitution, we would also welcome the other side of the political spectrum on campus; it’s all about balance,” said Connor at the end of the spring semester.

“It was unfortunate they did not implement the Bylaw. It would have given SGA a clearer stance over the matter of political groups becoming recognized SGA clubs,” said Cutler.

However, Connor, skeptical of Turning Point USA, believes the bylaw will be brought up again in the future or maybe in the fall. It depends on Westfield State University’s legal division forwarding SGA the guidance on the bylaw.

This year would not be the first time Turning Point has come to campus. Lessing reported that last year and in 2020, the organization visited the campus on multiple occasions with no physical altercations recorded, but Lessing could recall only verbal arguments.

Although SGA does recognize the concern for the safety of students concerned about Turning Point, SGA still wants to provide an inclusive environment for everybody on our campus. Therefore, SGA continues its perseverance in maintaining Westfield State University’s values of respecting diversity and inclusion according to Lessing.

Even though Westfield State University is considered a public space for everyone, Turning Point has continuously visited the campus while acquiring a booth, which only accepted clubs through Student Affairs or SGA have access to. Who has been inviting Turning Point to campus remains a mystery.

The spread of Turning Point’s controversial ideas does not start or end at Westfield State University; it has happened around the country and in social media. For example, Media Matters would comment on Charlie Kirk’s racism within the Turning Point USA organization.

“TPUSA’s founder and executive director, Charlie Kirk, has repeatedly denied that his organization is racist, yet the incidents of blatant bigotry involving members of the TPUSA keep happening, even as leaks show white nationalists plotting to infiltrate it. Kirk, the right-wing ‘boy wonder’ who has used Fox News to turn fear-mongering about left-wing ideology on college campuses into a profitable one,” said Christina G. Lopez on Media Matters.

The accusations of hate crimes committed by various members of Turning Point could be traced back to the year 2017. For example, member Juan Pablo Andrade, a 2017 Turning Point Conference attendee, praised the Nazis for their actions reported by The Hill political organization.

“The only thing the Nazis didn’t get right is they didn’t keep fucking going,” said Andrade caught on tape at the 2017 Turning Point Conference.

In 2020, as reported by The Guardian, Turning Point USA assisted dozens of other groups in supporting former President Donald Trump’s 6 January “March to Save America” by bringing busloads of Trump allies to Washington D.C. for the rally that would become the Capitol Attack.

As an opponent to the Turning Point Westfield State Chapter, Croteau believes that the hateful roots of the whole organization will reach Westfield State if the chapter is formed and increase hate crime on campus.

“What is the end goal of forming a Turning Point Chapter on campus? How will Turning Point improve Westfield State with freedom of speech, yet their organization is anti-LGBTQ and anti-women,” said Croteau at the end of the spring semester.

On their website, Turning Point USA, they possess views that are promoting patriotism and improving the country economically and socially.

“The US Constitution is the most exceptional political document ever written,” said Turning Point USA.

“Capitalism is the most moral and proven economic system ever discovered,” said Turning Point USA.

Before ending the interview, Lessing provided suggestions for going about the organization to elevate any stress of students concerned or worried about Turning Point USA on campus.

“If you find their beliefs bothering, just ignore them. However, if they do uncomfortably confront or harass you, Westfield State University officials would have the right to bar them from entry on campus,” said Lessing.

After sending evidence of hate, discrimination, and participation in the Capitol Attack committed by Turning Point to Pierce, Westfield State cannot bar the organization from entering the campus.

“While we cannot prevent individuals or organizations from campus unless they violate university rules or state laws, we do have policies in place to ensure that all members of our community and guests can express themselves in a manner that is respectful and does not interfere with the rights of others,” said Pierce.

Despite that being the case, Cutler mentioned that there is a fine line between freedom of speech and expressing hate concerning Turning Point USA.

“Although the free speech of expressing hate towards one identity, personality, and gender is not a legal crime, it does not exclude you from being a bad person,” said Cutler.

Before ending the interview with Ekstrom at the end of the spring semester, he offered some friendly advice for the students involved with Turning Point USA.

“I would advise them to seriously look into any organization that they are considering to join. Many of the members knew nothing about what Turning Point was and recommended taking the campus pride training, it’s free, and anyone can join,” said Ekstrom.

“As I saw on the Campus Green the other day, promote an open dialogue with the organization. Or, if you disagree with their ideas, ignore them,” said Connor.

If any Westfield State student wants to share their opinion on Turning Point USA on campus, feel free to fill out the survey.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Westfield Voice

Your donation will support the student journalists of Westfield State University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Westfield Voice

Comments (0)

All The Westfield Voice Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *