Charlie Kirk, founder and face of Turning Point USA, a conservative activist group, drew supporters and dissenters to the EMU lawn yesterday when he visited the University of Oregon, challenging students to debate him in front of his camera crew.
While some from the UO College Republicans and the UO Turning Point group, like sophomore Shea Calvert, looked on with smiles, others joined Kirk to protest his message, like junior Aidan Wall. He and a hand-full of other students tabled next to Kirk behind signs proclaiming “the real TP USA” while they handed out rolls of toilet paper. A separate group of about five counter-protestors held a YDSA (Young Democratic Socialists of America) flag quietly.
“I think it’s disgusting,” Wall said. “This is a really inflammatory group and they try to show up on campus and start problems by doing things like holding up signs that say ‘There are only two genders’ and stuff like that. They’re trying to get a reaction, that’s why they have cameras out and they’re snapping pictures of people.”
Although Kirk was hoping to talk with people who disagreed with him, Wall wasn’t interested.
“I don’t think it’s responsible to elevate his message,” said Wall. “I don’t want to give his platform any more views than it already has.” He and several other protestors expressed that Kirk’s group would likely edit the video to make the people he argues with look bad.
Calvert said she sees value in talking to those who don’t share her views, and she didn’t believe that the video would be edited to portray opposing beliefs in a bad light.
“People on the opposition do make decent points and those should be heard too,” she said. “You’d be surprised how much people are willing to have a conversation and be fair and chill.”
“Since not many people are conservative on campus it’s kind of a minority so he [Kirk] kind of brings us together. It gives us a chance to really share our views together where normally on campus there’s a lot of opposition. Which is fine, it’s healthy.” Calvert said.
Turning Point USA is scheduled to stop at the University of Washington on Oct. 18 followed by Rutgers University in New Jersey Oct. 22.