I was one of the senators who voted in favor of banning Turning Point USA from campus. I owe it to my student constituents to understand why. When the piece was first introduced, I took my time to read it and to understand what message, what goal the authors intended with the piece. I then made time to hear from students. I am currently taking 15 credit hours, I have two jobs and am an officer for two of the three organizations I am in. I sat in Jones Dining Hall for hours after posting various times on Twitter that I was open to listening to concerns about the piece. I began to investigate to do my due diligence so that I would be prepared when the time came to cast a vote. The deeper I got into research about Turning Point USA and its involvement on other college campuses across the country, the more I found.
Turning Point USA has an ongoing campaign that actively puts conservative students into positions of power within Student Governments at colleges and universities across the country. It already happened at Texas State with the now-defunct Boreing-Becerra administration, and even before that with previous executive alliances. In an investigation conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education, it found that Turning Point USA has had involvement with dozens of student government elections. Turning Point USA’s “Campus Victory Project” is described as a detailed, multi-phase plan to “commandeer the top office of Student Body President at each of the most recognizable and influential American universities.”
No, and I repeat, no organization should have this kind of power to influence and corrupt our post-secondary institutions this way. This country preaches about the value of democracy, and yet we have organizations like this, working their way into our senate chambers, attempting to control where your student fees go. It is because of this information, and even hearing and speaking to conservatives, that I made my choice to vote in favor of the ban.
As long as Turning Point USA has a chapter on campus, as unimpressive as its Texas State chapter membership and social media presence is, it will always have a gateway in. This resolution wasn’t about the First Amendment as much as it has spun this way. It is about stopping further corruption of our institution with seemingly unlimited funds.
A national spotlight has been shone on Texas State. Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, has repeatedly blasted our university and called for us to be defunded. Governor Greg Abbott also questioned whether tax-payer money should fund our school.
Governor, this message now goes directly to you. Our taxes do not fund ideological battlegrounds. They fund innovation, research and scholars. This year alone, our university will be introducing five new degree programs, one of which is the Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering program. A program that will feature a holistic emphasis on technology-enhanced infrastructure and will be the first of its kind in Texas. I listened and watched as Student Government was belittled and attacked. All of our good work went down the drain. I and other senators have written and passed legislation that will be forgotten because of all of this. I can only hope that the university administration will look beyond the claims of attacks on the First Amendment and open their eyes to what Turning Point USA does. I hope the administration will work to keep our students, faculty and staff safe from Turning Point USA’s toxic influence.
– Monica Mendez is a public relations and mass communication senior