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Mace & Crown | April 22, 2018

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Conservative group places hundreds of signs in the Batten Arts and Letters building

Conservative group places hundreds of signs in the Batten Arts and Letters building

Alex Scruggs | News Editor

Hundreds of political signs were put up in BAL by an on-campus group, Turning Point USA ODU, last night. The signs had various messages, some reading, “Socialism kills, do something about it; Make taxation theft again; Socialism sucks; and I’m pro-choice, pick your gun.”

Turning Point USA is a conservative non-profit group geared toward educating people on free-market values. “I’m expecting them to upset people,” Dan O’Connor, president of TPUSA at ODU, said. O’Connor, with two other advocates for the group, had 360 signs to place.  “(TPUSA provides) them free for anyone who wants to be active on campus.”

Dan O’Connor, Turning Point USA ODU president. Photo by Alex Scruggs

This all happened around 9:30 p.m. After placing many signs in the main stairwell, O’Connor and the other TPUSA ODU representatives moved on to the lobby. Even though it was late and most classes had ended, they drew some attention.

Four patrol aids and one ODUPD officer were called to the scene. “A professor called in a complaint, so dispatch sent a couple officers over to make sure the situation was under control,” Casey Richardson, a patrol aid officer, said. “Usually if you put up any controversial sign that isn’t approved, you might have some discord between the students.”

O’Connor was not dissuaded by the ODUPD officer, who concluded that there was no wrongdoing and TPUSA was within its rights to put up the signs. “I’ve gotten approval. I’ve been putting these posters up since the beginning of the year.” The approval came from the SGA, O’Connor says.

One SGA member this morning said that O’Connor had approval to put up signs in Webb but was unsure if BAL was included. He said that the SGA was “pretty sure he’s not in violation.”

Photo by Alex Scruggs

“I was not the one that called them, obviously,” O’Connor said. “It just shows that some people on campus think they need to get the police involved when their feelings are hurt.”

Jonathan Arslan, a passing student, said, “I have no opinion on the organization, Turning Point, but I think they should totally be allowed to put signs up for it. You see signs from different political perspectives on campus all the time. I think people are just mad because they put up a lot of them.”

Tanner Ophof, a student sitting in BAL’s lobby, said, “I’m not bothered by them. I don’t necessarily agree with it but I think they have just as much right as anyone else to put stuff up,” Ophof continued, “My friend was like, ‘If they’re not supporting socialism, what do they support?’ which I thought was a good point.”

Photo by Alex Scruggs

By 9:30 a.m. this morning, all the signs had been removed. One student reported seeing a maintenance worker taking them down.

  • Patrick Greene

    Do your research. This group is associated with white nationalists, misogynist groups, and violating school election rules at college campuses across the US. The fact that they targeted BAL is a clear message of intimidation to students studying in liberal arts disciplines. This is irresponsible reporting.

  • FreeなSplash

    Wow did you check the SGA manual at all because all this is in clear violation of the rules. Calling B.S. on the approval, that’s not how it’s done. Yet, if you knew how to use google youd know this is a White Nationalist group trying to irritate and frighten our students. They’ve also got small dicks for ruining everyone else’s posters c:

  • Alisa Marie Moore

    TPUSA is not just a “conservative” group; they are directly tied to several white nationalist groups who were present at the “Unite the Right” rally (riots) in Charlottesville, VA, including the Proud Boys and the Traditionalist Worker Party. They also have a blacklist of professors they don’t agree with who their members (and other white supremacists) then harass and threaten online, if you want to talk about people’s feelings being hurt. I found all of this with Google, which is a free platform this student “journalist” Alex Scruggs should know how to use. So yeah, to echo Patrick and Vica, do your damn research and report with a conscience. The fact that this organization is approved by ODU, when our President just wrote an op-ed about how open, diverse, and inclusive our campus is, is ridiculous and infuriating.

  • Dear students, TPUSA is NOT a conservative student group. It IS a functionary of the Alt-Right. Please read:

    https://academeblog.org/2017/12/18/how-the-alt-right-seeks-to-sabotage-the-university/.

    https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/02/16/turning-point-usas-blooming-romance-alt-right.

    For a growing bibliography of their history, associations, non-profit status violations, and attempts to takeover student governments, please see:

    https://www.academia.edu/35831444/Turning_Point_USA_A_Bibliography_of_the_White_Nationalist_Assault_on_College_and_University_Campuses_Update_3.23.18