Turning Point USA returns to UW-River Falls
March 18, 2023
Turning Point USA (TPUSA) has become a prominent organization on college campuses across the United States, with chapters in universities and colleges in all 50 states, including a chapter at UW-River Falls.
The organization was founded in 2012 by Charlie Kirk, and the River Falls chapter was founded in the Fall of 2019 with the help of the former president and current vice president, Lisha Fairbairn. The River Falls chapter disappeared at the time when the COVID-19 pandemic hit but returned in the spring of 2023 with the help of the current president, Jalyssa Beaudry.
TPUSA aims to educate young people about conservative principles, including fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government. TPUSA has been both praised and criticized for its activities and views. Supporters see it as a vital organization for promoting conservative ideas and values among young people, while critics argue that it promotes divisive and harmful policies.
Vice President Lisha Fairbairn and President Jalyssa Beaudry stated that the strongest value the club aims to promote on campus is freedom of speech. Lisha states that Turning Point is “a good space where students can come to have discussions about stuff that they may feel uncomfortable talking about in the classroom because of the stigma around it.”
According to TPUSA, the organization has been successful in attracting young conservatives because it has tapped into their desire to push back against what they see as a liberal bias in higher education. The organization also uses slogans and social media to create a sense of belonging and camaraderie among its members. The River Falls TPUSA Facebook page has over 2,000 followers and counting. They also work to attract and engage students on campus by tabling in the University Center and also via word of mouth.
One of the prominent things that distinguishes TPUSA as an organization and the UW-River Falls chapter is its approach to student involvement. President Jalyssa Beaudry said, “we would love to see students who don’t already hold conservative values here because there aren’t political clubs on campus and we want to have those discussions.”
One of the main goals of TPUSA's campus chapters is to promote open dialogue and free speech on college campuses. The organization believes that conservative voices are often marginalized or silenced on college campuses, and it seeks to provide a platform for these views to be heard.
Vice President Fairbairn shared her idea to get more students engaged through a “free speech ball.” This gives students the opportunity to take a marker and write whatever they want on the ball. “Students can express whatever they want on this ball and at the same time will bring attention to free speech,” Fairbairn said.
TPUSA has also faced criticism for its tactics and approach to political activism. Some have accused the organization of being too extreme and divisive, while others have questioned its commitment to free speech and open dialogue. Critics have also accused TPUSA of promoting conspiracy theories and spreading false information.
Despite the criticisms, TPUSA continues to be a major force on college campuses. According to TPUSA, the organization has been successful in creating a network of conservative activists who are passionate about promoting their beliefs.
Beaudry states the UW-River Falls chapter “wants people to come in here and share their different points because we may believe different things but at the end of the day we are all humans, we are all students and we can connect on those things.”