Student Voice


July 14, 2024

Conservative student orgs spark controversy

April 21, 2023

The student organizations Turning Point USA (TPUSA) and Students for Life have become controversial topics of conversation among students and faculty of the UW-River Falls campus. The arrival of these organizations on campus has sparked a range of reactions, from enthusiasm and support to skepticism and concern.

In an era of extreme political polarization, these groups are raising important questions about free speech, diversity, and inclusion. While some see them as an opportunity for politically conservative students to come together and express their ideas, others worry that they may create a narrow-minded echo chamber that shuts down alternative perspectives. 

The TPUSA chapter has been reestablished on campus as of spring 2023 as an organization committed to promoting conservative values in the community. These values include free markets, limited government, and individual liberty. However, the organization has faced criticism and controversy for some of its tactics and its connections to far-right extremist groups.

There has also been an established chapter of Students for Life, a pro-life organization dedicated to pushing its agenda of limiting women's reproductive rights and promoting a culture of shame and guilt around abortion. 

Students for Life says they are a nonpartisan group, “composed of diverse UWRF community members advocating for the rights of human life.” The members of this organization hold what can be seen as a narrow-minded view that denies a woman's right to choose what happens to her own body.

Its activities and events are designed to intimidate women who are considering abortion, and to spread biased information about the scientific, ethical, and moral issues surrounding this deeply personal decision. 

The UWRF chapter of Students for Life goes beyond mere rhetoric and seeks to impose its beliefs on community members by offering "practical support.” One of the ways in which this is done is by ‘tabling’ in the University Center. 

Its methods include connecting women with anti-choice pregnancy resource centers, which often provide misleading information about abortion and pressure women to carry their pregnancies to term, regardless of their circumstances. 

With the establishment of these two clubs, it should be considered that there are no other politically affiliated groups for them to compete with. This runs the risk of creating a one-sided opinion corridor that could lead to a lack of critical thinking and narrow-mindedness, and a system where students are exposed to only one set of beliefs without the opportunity to engage with alternative perspectives. 

The emergence of these clubs could lead to further division and animosity on campus, as students with different beliefs may feel marginalized and silenced. It's crucial that universities prioritize creating a safe and welcoming environment for all students, regardless of their political affiliations. While these two clubs may seem like an opportunity for some students, they could be seen as having detrimental effects on the campus community's overall well-being.