‘Turning Point USA' group speaks with Texas State students about free speech, campus ban

A late-night Texas State University student government meeting on Monday resulted in the elected student officials voting to ban the university's chapter of conservative group Turning Point USA from campus.

“I think this just shows you the dangerous trend on college campuses where college conservatives are being silenced and threatened and shouted down,” chapter president Stormi Rodriguez said.

After that vote, Rodriguez captured video with her cellphone showing students yelling obscenities at her.

“They screamed curse words at me, they threatened me, they did racial slurs,” Rodriguez said. "It was an honestly terrifying experience."

Student senator Claudia Gasponi co-wrote the resolution banning TPUSA.

“That is Turning Point USA’s entire plan is to depict the left as people who are hostile when in actuality it’s humans who are fighting for our right to exist and not have our identities be the things that make us get murdered,” Gasponi said about Rodriguez's video.

Rob Smith is a spokesperson for TPUSA who flew in from New York Wednesday to chat with students about the group and about free speech in general.

“Do they think that it is right to shut down speech that they don’t agree with?” Smith said “This [Rodriguez's video] is where we are, this is where the left is right now and this is what we’re trying to avoid."

TPUSA has been criticized by Texas State students for allegedly harassing teachers and students and aligning themselves with white supremacists which Smith says is not true.

“I get personally called a white supremacist, a homophobe, alt-right, all of these other things, it is just because I’m a gay black man that happens to not conform to leftists' ideals and I think that these terms are what people use to shut down any ideas that are not super far to the left,” Smith said.

When asked about this, Gasponi called it "a kind of silly question."

“These violent alt-right groups don’t necessarily care if you are a person of color or if you’re queer, all they care about is if you hate the left enough to inflict violence and terrorism upon them," Gasponi said.

Even though the student government voted to ban the group, the University itself hasn’t taken action and they pointed out student government itself doesn’t have the power to do that.

“Mostly what we can do is get students like across campus to notice how dangerous it is that Turning Point USA is on our campus and all of us collectively pressure the administration because right now our lives are in danger and the administration does not care,” Gasponi said.

The Dean of Students sent out a letter after Monday’s vote pointing out recognized student organizations can only be barred from campus if they are under disciplinary sanctions, which they say TPUSA is not.