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BSG approves Turning Point USA chapter on campus


The first Turning Point USA (TPUSA) chapter in Western New York was recently approved by the Brockport Student Government (BSG) to become an official club on campus after being denied last semester.  

TPUSA is a non-profit organization founded by conservative activist and talk show host Charlie Kirk in 2012. TPUSA has opened chapters on college campuses nationwide with the mission to educate students on fiscal responsibilities, free markets and limited government.  

In the fall of 2021 Sarah Prentice, SUNY Brockport freshman and president of TPUSA at Brockport went to a BSG senate meeting to try and get the club approved. To her knowledge, all she needed was a club constitution and an advisor for BSG to approve it, but the club was denied.  

“I don’t know how many senators there are, I think nine, and only one voted yes,” Prentice said. “Some people just said ‘no’ and then others refused to even vote at all. I could just tell they thought I was all the things that people label conservatives as.”   

According to Prentice, BSG President Justin Crawford vetoed the senate’s decision and gave TPUSA a second chance to become a club. TPUSA was approved on Friday, Feb. 18 with four ayes and three abstentions from the senate. The vote came down to BSG’s Vice President Nia Robertson who voted in favor of the club.  

BSG senator Ravena Busjit voted yes to TPUSA because she believes all students should have the same opportunities regardless of their political beliefs.   

“I know it’s a controversial club and I voted yes because I feel like all students and any clubs that come up should have an opportunity to do what they intend to. I didn’t want any of the controversy around it to interfere with them being able to have this opportunity and prohibit them from doing something they’re passionate about,” Busjit said.  

Across the nation, TPUSA chapters have been denied at college campuses for their political views, conservative founding and alleged instances of hate speech from members of the club.  

Prentice, however, says the club is nonpartisan and her mission at Brockport is to facilitate a safe and welcoming place for civil discussions about current events.  

“We are a college organization, we promote fiscal responsibility, free markets and individual liberty. We are very constitutional and love the First Amendment. If somebody wanted to come to one of our meetings and engage in a political debate, we’re going to welcome everybody,” Prentice said.   

When TPUSA posted on the Daily Eagle last semester in search of a faculty or staff member to advise the club, Chief Diversity Officer Damita Davis weighed in with a post on Brockport Today.  

“Turning Point USA’s stated objective is political…We are aware that the national group has also drawn attention for the hate speech that some of its members have engaged in. SUNY Brockport stands firmly against such hate,” Davis wrote.  

Other students such as sophomore criminal justice major Torrie Fiduccia do not support the club’s presence on campus because she says it doesn’t align with the college’s goal of creating a diverse environment.  

“There’s nothing wrong with being educated politically but when your politics collide with human health, morals and respect for the schools’ policies and wishes, there’s really no point,” Fiduccia said.  

According to Davis’ statement last semester on Brockport Today, the college is required to uphold the First Amendment rights of their students, which includes the right to establish a club given they follow school procedures.  

“SUNY Brockport is also a public institution and is legally required to uphold the First Amendment rights afforded to all United States citizens,” Davis wrote. “This group, like all other proposed student groups, has been asked to follow the established policies and procedures Brockport Student Government requires to gain official recognition as a student club or organization.” 

SUNY Brockport junior and criminal justice major Mara Briggs says the club gives her a safe place to express her beliefs on campus where she feels conservative viewpoints are not always welcomed.  

“(Before TPUSA) People who have opposing viewpoints didn’t have a place on campus to express their views and ideas in a safe way. Being on a campus that is relatively liberal is hard because you want to say what you believe but a lot of people are going to give you backlash for it” Briggs said.  

TPUSA will meet at their temporary location, The Gospel Church in Brockport, until they are able to get a room on campus. Prentice and the other members of TPUSA at Brockport say students of all political and religious beliefs are welcomed and encouraged to attend their meetings for civil discussions on current events.  

“I hope that instead of automatically assuming we’re all these things because we’re a leaning-conservative club that people would come to a meeting and see for themselves that that’s not actually what we’re about,” Prentice said.  

TPUSA held their first meeting as an official club on Thursday, Feb. 24, where they discussed upcoming plans and current events. As they are now an approved club, the group hopes to move to campus as soon as possible and will continue meeting every other Thursday at 7 p.m.  

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