Ideas clashed as UVU hosted Utah’s first Turning Point USA event, called Campus Clash, on March 4. The event drew a large crowd of conservative Utahns, as well as a protest from students.
Turning Point USA is a non-profit that was founded by Charlie Kirk in 2012 to promote conservative ideas on college campuses. According to their website, Turning Point USA’s mission “is to identify, educate, train and organize students to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets and limited government.”
The non-profit is also known for operating a “watchlist” of professors they allege discriminate against conservative students.
This is the first time the organization has held an event at a university in Utah. It featured Kirk, in addition to as well as Candace Owens, the communications director for Turning Point USA.
Campus Clash events, as they are called, are intended to rally support for conservatism on college campuses and to support President Trump.
Supporters of Kirk and Owens filled the Grand Ballroom in the Sorensen Center. The event was free but attendees could pay for VIP status and were able to meet the speakers before the event.
People from all over the state attended Campus Clash, including local community members, high school students, BYU and UVU students and supporters of President Trump.
Stephanie Kaplan, a sophomore majoring in psychology, volunteered and was excited to see Kirk speaking on UVU campus.
“This is very, very exciting,” she said. “We were actually selected from a pot of 200 schools.”
Kyle Kashuv, a Parkland shooting survivor, was brought up on stage with Kirk and Owens, but he did not say more than a few lines regarding the Second Amendment. He said that it was the police’s failures before the shooting, not guns, that impacted the outcome of the shooting.
Scott, a junior exercise science major who declined to give his last name, attended to see “how these functions work, [and] how people react to them.” He also said he isn’t politically entrenched, but does align with some of the values the event was promoting.
Also in attendance were opponents of Kirks’ and Owens’ positions.
One such student, Kwaku El, a BYU communications major and member of the BYU Democrats leadership, said “I believe you’ve got to listen to those who you may disagree with to see what they’re like as human beings and their overall goal.”
At the conclusion of the event, attendees were met with a student-organized protest. Clubs such as the Queer Student Alliance, Young Democratic Socialists of America and the Black Student Union gathered with signs and banners to meet the Turning Point USA organizers and attendees outside the ballroom after the event. There were no altercations between the protesters and event attendees.