Turning Point UNM Withdrawal of Recognition by the University
Turning Point UNM Withdrawal of Recognition by the University
Why this petition matters
Turning Point USA (TPUSA) is a far-right student organization dedicated to building the "most organized, active, and powerful conservative grassroots network on high school and college campuses across the country." TPUSA's mission is to "identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free market, and limited government." TPUSA's founded Charlie Kirk has called college campuses "islands of totalitarianism," and he and his supporters have contended that conservatives are the true victims of discrimination in America. Thus, kirk has vowed to fight back on behalf of what he has called the "Team Right" through founding TPUSA. However, TPUSA has been accused of having a history of scamming, spreading misinformation, targeting college professors and school members they disagree with, and racism.
While Turning Point USA has a long history of being accused of scamming, the Washington Post published an article in February of 2022 about the organization's plan to create a K-12 online school that would generate $40 million a year at its peak. However, their plans imploded after employees at the firm Turning Point planned to partner with revolted against the union. Additionally, TPUSA is a tax-except nonprofit with some questionable accounting practices. According to an article published by ProPublica, "the nonprofit has also made misleading assertions about its finances to state and federal regulators, according to interviews and an examination of tax and business records." Furthermore, the article claims, "the accounting firm Turning Point uses has engaged in multiple business relationships with [William] Montgomery (TPUSA's Co-Founder), who served for years as the nonprofit's treasurer. The dynamic, experts say, imperils independence and undermines the credibility of Turning Point's financial statement, including its federal tax returns". But not only has Turning Point USA been accused of scamming, the organization has also been accused of spreading misinformation.
In another Washington Post Article from 2020, the authors noted that TPUSA paid young conservatives-including minors- to post misinformation about COVID-19 and mail-in ballots. Additionally, on a related note, NBC reported that Meta's Facebook had to take down hundreds of fake accounts tied to TPUSA via a marketing agency named Rally Forge who was paid $531,198 by Turning Point for "digital education" services, according to TPUSA's 2020 tax filing.
However, one of the most concerning accusations against Turning Point USA that has directly impacted college campuses is the creation of Professor Watchlist. As the debate about teaching critical race theory garnered controversy across America, TPUSA created a directory of university professors across the United States whom the right-wing group has flagged for promoting liberal biased viewpoints. Students are invited to "submit a tip" about professors they feel should be included in the list. This watchlist compiles names and profiles of self-identified progressive professors on the internet, encouraging conservative students to intimidate them, or even worse. Some-including people on the list, claim that it is used to silence voices who do not view the world exactly the way Turning Point wants them to view it. Some list recipients have even received death threats and academics of color make up a large portion of the watchlist, despite only occupying a small percentage of academia. Such a list can endanger professors' reputations, livelihoods, and relationships. However, arguably the most important accusation thrust towards TPUSA, given how the University of New Mexico prides itself on diversity, equity, and inclusion, are the claims of racism which are ingrained in the organization's fundamental principles.
Charlie Kirk has been a vocal supporter of border security because bringing in more Black and Brown, people-something he has dubbed the "illegal alien invasion"-is "diminishing and decreasing white demographics in America." Additionally, he has said that he did not get into West Point Military Academy (a United States service academy in West Point, New York) because a woman of color undeservingly took his spot, which he claims were due to affirmative action, which was proven to be untrue. Charlie Kirk has also been a staunch critic of racial or cultural diversity, which he views as racism against white people, but he supports "intellectual diversity." He has also been accused of both making and supporting racist rhetoric against many prominent black celebrities and political figures, including Meghan Markle (the Duchess of Sussex), Simon Biles (a seven USA Olympic medalist), and Ketanji Brown Jackson (associate justice of the U.S Supreme Court), and even Oprah Winfrey (an American talk show host). And TPUSA's history of bigoted rhetoric has established itself in its core values and the core values of many University chapters across the nation, including the University of New Mexico’s own chapter.
Turning Point UNM (TPUNM) is a chapter of an organization that has exhibited the same exclusive and hateful ideals that the national organization has been accused of and has even been accused of displaying the same racist views held by Charlie Kirk this past week. During an event hosted by TPUNM, a group of students accused TPUNM organizers of denying them entrance to a speech given by Tomi Lahren on Thursday, Sept. 15, despite having tickets to the event. Students of color claimed that as they attempted to enter the event venue (held in the SUB Building), they were turned away after witnessing two white attendees being let in. At the same time, a TPUNM organizer said, "'They look normal, they can go in,'" according to an article written by the Daily Lobo. The student who spoke to the Daily Lobo continued, "'I feel like it was racially targeting and targeted by class as well. And with UNM being a very diverse school, I don't really understand why we even allowed this to happen in the first place.'" TPUNM has additionally protested the UNM COVID-19 vaccine mandate and continues to actively hold programs in which they invite students to debate the rights of LGBTQAI+ students openly. Even going as far as to hold a vote among passer-Byers near the duckpond on whether transgender students should be allowed to participate in sports teams that conform with their gender identity on the same day as their Tomi Lahren event. It is also evident that TPUNM intentionally chose to host Tomi Lauren on Thursday night to cause controversy among UNM's community, as Tomi Lahren has been, similarly to Charlie Kirk, accused of bigotry and racism.
It is beyond appalling that UNM has allowed such an organization with a conversational history to charter a local chapter. The allowance of their university affiliation is a disservice to their majority-minority students and has caused much disdain. As concerned students, we encourage you to sign this petition to show UNM Administration that TPUNM is not welcome on our campus as a chartered organization and needs withdrawal their recognition of the organization.
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