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Students, faculty frustrated with Turning Point USA and ASU after altercation involving faculty member

David Boyles, a queer instructor who teaches a course about LGBTQ+ youth, was pushed to the ground by members of Turning Point USA on Wednesday


The drive way to the Fulton Center Parking Garage where ASU faculty member David Boyles was pushed to the ground is pictured on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Tempe.

ASU students and faculty said they are frustrated about the lack of safety and communication from the University regarding an incident involving queer instructor David Boyles and members of Turning Point USA.

ASU PD spokesperson Adam Wolfe said Boyles "was assaulted in the Fulton Garage on Tempe campus Wednesday afternoon."

Wolfe said ASU PD is investigating the incident as a "potential bias or prejudicially motivated incident," and said it has not yet identified any suspects. 

According to a video posted by Turning Point USA on X, formerly known as Twitter, two "crew members" accused Boyles of being "attracted to minors" and confronted him as he walked across campus. 

Boyles teaches a class on LGBTQ+ Youth in Pop Culture and Politics. A spokesperson with Turning Point USA said the two crew members never attacked Boyles, but rather asked him questions about some of his public statements and writings, including some about drag shows in a presentation last month.

TPUSA said Boyles "initiated a physical altercation by lunging, pushing, and clawing at the camera man."

In an Instagram post from Boyles that showed a cut on his face, he said he was jumped from behind and slammed onto the ground by the two crew members of TPUSA.

Security footage from ASU PD showed Boyles lunging for one of the TPUSA crew member's handheld cameras before being pushed to the ground from behind by the other crew member.

In a statement, the University said "harassment or threatening behavior toward ASU employees is dangerous, unsettling and will not be tolerated. With that in mind, we reviewed our university protocols to ensure swift reporting, careful investigation, and focus on your safety as our utmost concern."

Members of different LGBTQ+ organizations on campus have since called on the University to be more vocal in their support for the community.

Anthony Scarmack, a sophomore studying journalism and mass communication and the vice president of Confetti, said the University needs to support the LGBTQ+ clubs on campus because they help foster a safe space in times when the community is still the target of hate. 

"This is why we have these safe spaces because obviously, these hate crimes and stuff are still happening," Scarmack said. "We still need these safe spaces. And we need to know that there's people that are just like us."

Scarmack said the lack of immediate response from the University and lack of a LiveSafe notification made him "frustrated to say the least." LiveSafe is part of ASU’s Alert and Advisory System which provides critical updates and instructions through text messages, emails and push notifications for both life-threatening and non-life-threatening situations.

"It almost feels as if the University is trying to hide some facts," Scarmack said.

In a public statement posted by the University on Oct. 14, ASU President Michael Crow denounced the incident by calling the two TPUSA members in the video "cowards."

"It is astounding to me that individuals from Turning Point USA would wait for an ASU instructor to come out of his class to follow him, harass him and ultimately shove him to the ground, bloodying his face," Crow said. "This is the kind of outrageous conduct that you would expect to see from bullies in a high school cafeteria."

Crow went on to say while ASU has supported Turning Point's right to host events on campus in the past, they will do everything they can to prevent incidents like this from happening again. 

"Let me assure all of you that ASU will do all that we can to end the bullying and intimidation of our faculty members by Turning Point USA and to reduce threats against the members of the ASU community which arise from such actions."

Boyles is on TPUSA's Professor Watchlist a website run by the organization that lists university staff members that they believe “discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.” Boyles is on the list for multiple reasons, including his help in developing Arizona's Drag Queen Story Hour.

Michael Ostling, one of the 43 ASU professors on the Professor Watchlist said the purpose of the list is to show which professors to "harass or make their lives difficult." Ostling has been outspoken against TPUSA's presence on campus in the past, including with their "Health, Wealth and Happiness" event held by Barrett last February.

READ MORE: Barrett event with Charlie Kirk, Dennis Prager draws faculty and student protest

"Freedom of speech is paid for when they have to look over their shoulder and fear being attacked," Ostling said."(The list) has a very clear purpose and it's right in the name ... it becomes this resource when they want to harass somebody."

Many students like Carlie Hess, a sophomore studying marketing, shared details of the incident on Instagram after not hearing from the University about the violence. Hess said she hopes ASU will address the situation and not hide it away.

"ASU claims to be an inclusive community. The least they can do is protect their faculty and students," Hess said. "Being open about what happened can show people the ugly truth of what many LGBTQ+ members face and help educate others on how genuine these fears are."

Edited by Shane Brennan, Sadie Buggle and Angelina Steel.

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 14 to use more precise language and add context regarding the nature of the incident. This story was updated again at 7:44 p.m. to include a newly released statement by President Michael Crow. This is a developing story and may be updated again.

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