Students, faculty and members of ASU's leadership have expressed their disdain towards Turning Point USA after ASUPD said a professor was assaulted on campus earlier this month.
Students with Socialist Revolution Arizona gathered in Coor Hall on the Tempe campus Wednesday to protest TPUSA as it held a chapter meeting inside the building. Many called for the removal of TPUSA — which has its headquarters in Phoenix — as a club chapter at ASU.
"We want to end all oppression forever," said Erica Low, a member of Socialist Revolution Arizona. "The only way to do that is to get rid of the people who divide us."
Of the 50 or so people outside the meeting, a handful supported TPUSA. Matthew Martinez said he stumbled upon the event.
"I don't think they're (Socialist Revolution) here to have conversations," Martinez said. "When I went inside with Turning Point USA, they let me in, and they were watching the baseball game."
Martinez works for TPUSA as a strategic field administrator. TPUSA did not allow The State Press inside the meeting and denied requests to comment at the event.
ASU instructor David Boyles was pushed to the ground by members of TPUSA on Oct. 11, sparking outrage and concern from students and faculty. In a statement released shortly after the incident, President Michael Crow denounced TPUSA but said the University supported the organization's right to hold public events on campus.
ASU PD spokesperson Adam Wolfe said they are investigating the incident as a "potential bias or prejudicially motivated incident."
"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," Crow said in his statement.
TPUSA was featured on campus multiple times before the incident, as recently as two weeks prior, when it held two events with founder Charlie Kirk. At one of the events, TPUSA speakers, including Kirk, called out ASU's faculty, specifically Barrett professors, for their letter disapproving a controversial prior event in February.
"I think it's the most important thing is that if you're a professor, even if you hate me, you shouldn't sign an open letter saying that I shouldn't be allowed to Arizona State University," Kirk said at a gathering outside the Memorial Union on Sept. 27. "It shows that they're not very confident in their beliefs and they want an ideological minority."
Kirk was referencing a letter signed by many members of Barrett's faculty in response to an event hosted by Barrett's now-dissolved T.W. Lewis Center that featured Kirk along with other prominent conservative media figures earlier this year.
Around 20 students attended an Undergraduate Student Government meeting on Oct. 17 in Tempe to urge USG to create a plan to foster a safer community for LGBTQ+ people on campus. Emma Martinez, a junior studying fashion and the president of TransFam, said before the meeting that the people who showed up hoped USG would help remove TPUSA from campus.
"There is a long history of violence and hatred toward LGBT communities, and TPUSA is one of those organizations that continues to spread hatred and violence," Martinez said. "We want to see TPUSA out of here."
Faculty members, like Professor Rashad Shabazz, do not have a lot of faith in the University, and he said he knew something like this would happen.
"The ultimate consequence of all this is going to be violence, because that's really where this is all leading," Shabazz said.
Shabazz is one of many ASU professors and faculty who are listed on Turning Point's Professor Watchlist, which is a database of faculty members at universities and colleges across the country who "discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom," according to its official website.
Boyles was also on the watchlist, but has recently been removed from the official list.
In April, Crow wrote an open letter to TPUSA's founder, Kirk, asking to either take all of his faculty off of the watchlist or add Crow himself. Kirk said Crow was added; however, Crow is not on the official watchlist. Many professors, including Shabazz, remain on the list.
Shabazz said he and some other faculty members attempted to form a task force in anticipation of violence committed by TPUSA on campus. He said the task force never properly got off the ground. Regarding Crow's statement after the incident with Boyles in October, he said it is "too little, too late."
"Violence has been done, and there didn't seem to be any real efforts by the University to address this," Shabazz said.
He said when he taught critical race theory, he needed to physically barricade the door in case someone interrupted the class and posed a threat to himself or his students. ASU is a public university and an open forum, so he said it is easy to find out when and where his classes occur.
Shabazz said he supports the University's efforts in free speech and said this is a place for discussion and dialogue, no matter how heated it can become. But, he said freedom of speech is not freedom of consequence.
"The University cannot sanction that kind of violent speech," Shabazz said. "One of the things it does is it enables the kind of people who attack Professor Boyles to feel that they have some kind of protection."
Edited by Jasmine Kabiri, Walker Smith and Angelina Steel.
Shane Brennan is the Editor-in-Chief at The State Press. He was a sports and politics reporter, before becoming the editor of the politics desk. He has covered local and state politics for the Arizona Capitol Times and Cronkite News.