New petition wants Turning Point banned from 2 Arizona universities | Phoenix New Times


New petition wants Turning Point banned from 2 Arizona universities

Students push to ban alt-right group after incidents at Arizona State and University of Arizona.
The United Campus Workers of Arizona is petitioning to ban a conservative group from ASU and UA campuses.
The United Campus Workers of Arizona is petitioning to ban a conservative group from ASU and UA campuses. Sara Crocker
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United Campus Workers Arizona is one of several groups petitioning to ban the alt-right organization Turning Point USA from setting foot on Arizona State University and University of Arizona campuses.

Turning Point, which is headquartered in Phoenix, is a national organization that agitates conservative youth, particularly on college campuses. As part of its so-called news arm, the organization has supporters film guerrilla-style interviews with unsuspecting subjects.

The petition follows two altercations between Turning Point representatives and professors at the two universities.

The first incident occurred on April 11, when two men with the group berated UA professor Harris Kornstein, interrogating him with lewd questions as they followed him around campus.

"They filmed Dr. Kornstein nonconsensually and asked offensive, sexually explicit, anti-LGBTQ+ questions," UCWAZ's petition noted.

The second incident on Oct. 11 ended with ASU professor David Boyles sustaining minor injuries after being pushed to the ground by Turning Point’s Kalen D’Almeida and an unnamed cameraman. It was the second time the organization targeted Boyles, who worked to establish a chapter of Drag Queen Story Hour in Arizona.

“The incident we’ve all now witnessed on the video shows Turning Point’s refusal to stop dangerous practices that result in both physical and mental harm to ASU faculty members, which they then apparently exploit for fundraising, social media clicks and financial gain,” ASU President Michael Crow said.

Despite Crow’s condemnation of the group, Turning Point continues to hold monthly meetings on campus, according to ASU’s website.
click to enlarge David Boyles, Turning Point USA
Turning Point’s Kalen D’Almeida approached ASU professor David Boyles to berate him on Oct. 11.

‘A very powerful force for hate’

On Oct. 28, UCWAZ began collecting signatures via the Action Network to demand that the Arizona Board of Regents, which governs public universities in the state, and the two schools ban Turning Point from the campuses.

"Turning Point USA is a very powerful force for hate on a national scale, but in this context, within Arizona," UCWAZ team member Hypatia Meraviglia told Phoenix New Times. "Removing Turning Point from campuses is the ideal situation, but ultimately, our greatest priority is the safety of black and brown and Indigenous and queer people on campus."

By Friday, the petition had 770 of the 800 signatures organizers are seeking.

Meraviglia said the petition has received a warmer reception online than it has in person. While reading the petition to the regents on Nov. 16, Meraviglia noted that several members weren't paying attention and one was even on his phone.

"That and the continued lack of response from the administration, in general, has shown us that they are really not interested in hearing what we have to say and really are not taking the lives and being of the queer people on campus seriously," Meraviglia said.

The UCWAZ petition has not yet been presented to ASU administrators, but that is not stopping the group from making headway on a parallel project: adding a queer student center at ASU.

According to Meraviglia, the student center would serve as a physical shelter for students who find themselves the target of Turning Point’s self-proclaimed journalists while on campus. Meraviglia cited Turning Point’s harassment of ASU students following a Sept. 27 gathering called “Health, Wealth, and Happiness” as a reason for the creation of a center.

The construction of a queer student center and the petition are actions Meravigilia said should happen in conjunction with each other.

"We are working on both of those simultaneously and have no intentions to stop either," Meravigilia said.

Turning Point did not respond to requests for comment.
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