Turning Point USA at ASU, a club that advocates for conservative political causes, posted a picture on March 29, via Twitter of the Sun Devil mascot, Sparky, holding a sign that reads "Big Government Sucks More Than Wildcats," poking fun at ASU's rival school and seemingly taking a political stance.
TPUSA at ASU posted the photo with hashtags like "#socialismsucks" and "#capitalismcures," but soon after received blowback from Twitter users who took issue with a mascot from a public university promoting a political view.
But the club chapter's president, Abbey Schroeder, sophomore political science and public policy double-major, said the organization will not acquiesce to requests to delete the photo from its social media.
"We fully support free speech on college campuses and it is one thing we advocate for as an organization," said Schroeder, "We will not be taking down the picture because it is our First Amendment right to post it."
Schroeder said the picture is harmless and TPUSA at ASU shouldn't feel any consequences.
ASU Young Democrats member David Huff, a sophomore political science major, said he found TPUSA's tweet to be ironic.
"I respect that they are letting people have free speech, but it is ironic for ASU's mascot to be holding a 'Big Government Sucks' sign when ASU is a public university funded by taxpayer dollars," Huff said.
Huff said the tweet can create a generalization that all ASU students and its affiliates support Turning Point's views.
"If you're Sparky, you're representing the university," Huff said.
According to a statement from an ASU spokesperson, neither the photo nor the sentiment reflect the opinions of the University.
Not all students feel the same concern as Huff.
Newly elected College Republicans President Alex Phillips, a freshman business major, said TPUSA has a right to tweet whatever they wish.
Phillips stands with TPUSA's decision to not take the picture off its Twitter. He said he does not want to stir the pot but doesn't think TPUSA was crossing the line.
The issue shouldn't be about discriminating against a political party, but to shift the focus toward ASU embracing different views through social media, he said.
Phillips said ASU is a predominantly left-leaning campus and should work on making all political views present.
ASU downtown Dean of Students Carla Owen said that though the tweet "may be inappropriate, everyone has a right to free speech."
The University has a formal procedure for student complaints, and Owen said she "has not seen this tweet and a formal complaint has not been filed through this office."
Since no formal student complaint has been filed, Owen said the ASU student mascot has not been released from his position.
Reach the reporters at email@example.com and Kimberly.Rapanut@asu and follow @armanigrace and @kimrapanut on Twitter.
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