The Undergraduate Council of Students recently approved a campus chapter of Turning Point USA, a nonprofit that promotes “principles of freedom, free market and limited government” on college campuses, according to its website.
The national organization has attracted attention for its political tactics. With slogans like “Big Government Sucks” and “Commies Aren’t Cool,” the group is known for its controversial rhetoric. Last year, the New Yorker also reported on possible campaign finance violations and uncovered racist text messages sent by TPUSA’s former national field director.
Alex Song ’20, chair of student activities, told The Herald that UCS approved the chapter because it fulfilled the general “criteria for every club.” When UCS considers an application, it looks at four requirements: if the group completes paperwork, “fills a niche,” shows interest from at least 10 students and is “a sustainable endeavor,” Song said.
The Student Activities Committee oversees club applications and consists of eight students who represent various segments of campus life, such as residential and Greek life, campus resources and recreation, and media and publications, according to UCS’ website.
In conjunction with the SAC, the administrative Brown Student Activities Office also supervises club activities. SAO, which is made up of administrative faculties, “makes sure that clubs follow the law,” said Jason Carroll ’21, a representative on SAC.
TPUSA is currently a category I student organization, so it does not receive funding from the Undergraduate Finance Board, Song said. But the group could “fundraise and start a bank account with SAO,” and they also “have access to the student activities fair,” he added.
Christian Diaz de Leon ’21, who is affiliated with TPUSA at Brown, said that the goal of the group is to “identify and organize students who lean toward libertarian ideals.” He characterized the mission of the group as “principle activism,” which means that it will “focus on the founding principles of this country.” Though the TPUSA chapter at Brown is relatively new, it has plans to host small social events and invite guest speakers to “discuss the benefits of capitalism … (and) raise awareness of national debt issues,” Diaz de Leon said.
In response to the formation of this right-wing group, Rose Lang-Maso ’20, president of Brown Democrats, told The Herald that she thinks TPUSA “has the right to be on campus.” Despite her own political stance, Lang-Maso is in favor of “diversity in political discourse” and giving “a voice (to the conservatives) in a liberal community.” But she expressed concern about the national organization’s “professor watch list,” which enumerates the names of professors who are considered “overly liberal,” according to TPUSA’s website.
Diaz de Leon told The Herald that the Brown chapter currently does not have a professor watch list.