Opinion: Turning Point USA is opposite of what Kent State stands for

As former student leaders at Kent State, we feel obligated to address recent on-campus demonstrations organized by the Kent State chapter of Turning Point USA. These demonstrations do not reflect the values of the Kent State community.

During our tenure, we commonly found ourselves in disagreement on issues we believed to be fundamental to our success as individuals, and in turn, as a society. Despite our disagreements, we constantly sought to elevate the dialogue on campus. If there is one thing we all agree on, it is that the opportunity for civil discourse must exist at Kent State and college campuses across the country.

Unfortunately, these demonstrations by Turning Point USA are little more than cheap publicity stunts, which serve to stifle civil discourse. Additionally, they have achieved nothing but to make a mockery of the hard work, dedication and values that student leaders exhibit daily. 

In their attempts to criticize “political correctness” and “safe spaces,” these students have demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of freedom of speech and freedom of association. Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences. To many, the current drive toward inclusive language is not an attack on free speech, but rather a natural occurrence within a society that increasingly understands the power language has over those who are disadvantaged. Freedom of association, a right which conservatives hold dear, protects safe spaces as much as it protects Turning Point USA’s right to exist.

Members of Turning Point USA may look to this editorial as proof that their tactics are working, but this could not be further from the truth. Much like a spoiled child who throws tantrums, these demonstrations attract attention. In the same way as this spoiled child, the attention drawn from these misguided demonstrations has proven a message cannot succeed on intent alone.

A message no longer matters when it has painted its messengers as weak and ineffective. The national Turning Point USA has nearly confirmed as much, stating the demonstration “clearly crossed the line and delved into the very obscure and inappropriate” and “the execution and imagery was poor in taste (sic).”

We, the undersigned, encourage Turning Point USA and all other student-led organizations at Kent State to listen to one another, promote healthy and conducive dialogue on campus and move forward with mutual respect and understanding.

Yaarub Alwan

Former President, American Medical Student Association

Hannah Armenta

Former Editor-in-Chief, The Kent Stater

Marissa Barnhart

Former Editor-in-Chief, The Burr Magazine

Former Student Success Leader

Former Undergraduate Student Leader, CCI Commons

Bruno Beidacki

Founder, Kent State Tennis Club

2017 Homecoming King

John Best

Former Education Officer, KSU ACM

Michael L. Brown

Former Phi Sigma Kappa Treasurer

Former Phi Sigma Kappa Community Service Chair

Former Phi Sigma Philanthropy and Academic Service Chair

Angel Cezanne (formerly Mack)

Editor-in-Chief, Luna Negra Magazine, 2013-2014

Intern/Teaching Artist, Wick Poetry Center, 2014

Kappa Tau Alpha, 2014

Matthew Chernesky

Former President, Kent State Political Science Club

Founder, Kent State Student Diversity Action Council

Former Vice President, Kent State College Democrats

Former Senator At-Large, Undergraduate Student Government

Former Membership Affairs Director, PRIDE! Kent

Erik Clarke

Former Director of Business & Finance (2012-13), Undergraduate Student Government

Former Eminent Recorder (2013-14), Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity

Matthew Cola

Former Senator for the College of Undergraduate Studies, Undergraduate Student Government

Former Secretary, Kent State Political Science Club

Former Resident Assistant

Former Philanthropy Chair & Fellowship Chair, Kappa Sigma

Schad Dalton

Former President, Kent State College Democrats

Katrina Darst

Former President, Kent Student Liberty Alliance

Sharon Darts

Former Leader, KSU Camel Club

Jessica Denton

Former President, May Fourth Task Force

Anthony Erhardt

Former President, Kent State College Democrats

Christine Francisco

Former President, Kent Interhall Council

Former President, Kent State College Democrats

Christina Freund

Former Vice President and co-founder, Gay Rights Revolutionaries

Former Student Success Leader

Grace Goodluck

Former Political Director, Kent State College Democrats

Former Chair, Ohio Student Association, Kent

Former Chair, United Students Against Sweatshops Local 27

James King

Former President, Students for Obama

Former Secretary, Kent State College Democrats

Former President, National Capital Chapter of the Kent State Alumni Association

Chelsea Knowles

Former Graduate Student Trustee, Board of Trustees

Matthew Merchant

Former Editor in Chief, The Kent Stater

Member, JMC Student Voice Team

Corey Moore

Co-founder and Former President, Kent Student Liberty Alliance

Ryan Pasquino

Executive Director, Kent Interhall Council

Brittany Rees

Former Editor-in-Chief, Fusion Magazine

Amelia Skidmore

Former Allies Chair, PRIDE! Kent

Bryan Staul

Former President, Kent State College Democrats

Former Senator At-Large, Undergraduate Student Government

Melinda Stephan

Current Imperfect Citizen of the World

Former Editor-in-Chief, Fusion Magazine

Former Member, Graduate Studies Council

Brandon Stephens

Former President, PRIDE! Kent

Former Vice President, Kent State College Democrats

Dallas Trescher

Former President, Kent Interhall Council

Former KSU Tour Guide

Former Student Success leader

Former Relay for Life committee member

Founder of AMF Kent Chapter

Caleb Valle

Former Vice President, PRIDE! Kent

Former Group Leader, Columbus Program in Intergovernmental Issues

Patrick Williams

Former Editor-in-Chief, The Burr Magazine

Tom Zocolo

Former President, Kent State Students for Sensible Drug Policy