Turning Point fever is spreading like wild fire in Indiana and every campus in the state is feeling the effect. Students are coming out in droves to express their support for capitalism and free markets and no campus is a better example then Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana. Interest in Turning Point took off my first day at Purdue with students coming from all over campus to get “I love Capitalism” pins and our “Socialism Sucks” stickers. Within a week, Turning Point signs started to show up in dorm windows and stickers began to appear on poles and bulletin boards. Purdue has been the campus to embrace Turning Point most quickly. However, even at the school run by the much beloved, former Governor of Indiana Mitch Daniels, I still hear a phrase that has become all too familiar to me during my time with Turning Point: “Thanks for being here. It’s good to finally see the other side.”
I hear this comment at every campus I got to. Students thank me just for standing out in the open and talking about ideas I believe in. They tell me how excited they are that someone is finally expressing the ideas they share out in the open. While I appreciate the kind words, I think they are indicative of the atmosphere that has come to dominate American college campuses: One in which students are afraid to share their opinion for fear of being met with blind hostility and unfair labels. The act of expressing an opinion in itself can be polarizing by its nature, but the proper response is a healthy debate and that has all but vanished from campuses. Instead, any speech that is disagreed with is labeled as “Hate Speech” and ignored as the opinions of a bigoted person. This makes it easy for students with opposing views to justify ignoring the other side’s arguments. Some will even go farther and claim that the opinion they labeled as “Hate Speech” is not free speech and attempt to get other student in trouble with the administration. It’s censorship in everything but name and students at Purdue are worried about it. Many told me the story of Joshua Nash as an example.
Joshua Nash was a student at Purdue Northwest who had expressed his opinion of Black Lives Matter on his Facebook account. Shortly there after he received a summons from the school to attend a required Administrative Meeting. A “community member” had reported his post and the school’s Title IX coordinator wanted to investigate “complaints of harassment or discrimination”. When Joshua called the school for more information about the meeting a campus official told him his comments could get him expelled. Joshua who is a gay male was also told that his use of a conservative hashtag on twitter was homophobic. Ultimately Joshua was never punished and Purdue Northwest claims they never threatened him with expulsion. But the story still resonates with students at Purdue’s main campus in Lafayette and is one of the main things I hear from students who sign up to help start Purdue’s chapter. They saw that a fellow student presented their opinion and instead of the people who disagree with him attempting to debate, they tried to use the school to censor him.
Such behavior is exactly what Turning Point intends to call attention to and the reason why our message is resonating so loudly with Purdue students. They want to ensure that freedom of speech is never compromised or limited to appease those who may be offended by it. Students want their campus to remain a place of thought provoking debate and learning. They want a campus free of safe spaces, trigger words, or any other new speak for censorship. Purdue Students want a free campus and Turning Point and I are here to help them anyway we can.