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Campus prepares for TPUSA event on March 14

UC Davis police, ASUCD and other organizations prepare as TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk is set to speak at the U Center next week

 

By SYDNEY AMESTOY — campus@theaggie.org

 

Content warning: this article contains discussions of transphobia, homophobia and racism that might be disturbing to some readers.

 

The UC Davis Police Department (UCDPD), ASUCD and campus community members are preparing for Turning Point USA (TPUSA) to return to campus on March 14 for a speaker event with the organization’s founder Charlie Kirk. The presentation, which will be held at the U Center, comes after protests outside of the last TPUSA event on Oct. 25 escalated, causing the event’s cancellation. 

TPUSA, a registered student organization, is a conservative student group with a mission to “identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government,” according to their website. Previously, the group has been criticized for bringing in guest speakers who have made statements that some students believe go against the UC Davis Principles of Community. The Oct. 25 event hosted Stephen Davis, who previously said that “systematic racism isn’t real.” 

Kirk, the planned speaker for the March 14 event, has been criticized for previous statements that are anti-trans and anti-LBGTQ+, such as calling those who identify as LGBTQ+ a “social contagion.” Kirk spoke at UC Santa Barbara on March 1, where he called the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment a “war on white people.”

According to Julie Ann Easley, a media specialist for UCDPD, campus police have plans in place for the event regarding security. This includes capping attendance of the event at 1,000 and requiring evidence of registration to attend.

“In preparing for the student event, the campus has been working with the student organizers to create an environment where freedom of speech can be exercised, including for those wanting to protest the speaker,” Easley said. “UC Davis has developed a comprehensive safety and security plan and is staffing appropriately for public safety needs.”
At the last TPUSA event, UCDPD was not deployed despite escalation; instead, private security stepped in according to the Oct. 25 press release. According to the press release, campus police were not deployed because the situation was de-escalated without any serious injuries. 

ASUCD is also preparing for the upcoming event by scheduling alternative programming at the same time as the event. According to ASUCD President Radhika Gawde, a finals study session will be held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. that night. 

ASUCD has been working closely with campus not only in our efforts to provide alternative spaces for students on March 14 but also to ensure that students remain safe if choosing to protest or attend the event,” Gawde said. 

After the last TPUSA event, ASUCD released an official statement condemning the counter-protesters who arrived on campus, stating that they stood in solidarity with those who protested TPUSA’s presence on campus.  

After the incidents at Oct. 25 event, UC Davis reiterated its commitment to freedom of expression for all students and expressed regret that the event could not continue, according to a press release.

“We understand that student groups following all campus policies are allowed to bring speakers to campus given the University’s obligations under the first amendment,” Gawde said. “It would be imprudent for members of ASUCD to be involved in conversations that might infringe upon the first amendment right of students even if the values of a group are inconsistent with those of the UC Davis Community.”

Flyers calling for protests to Kirk’s arrival put on by unofficial student group Cops Off Campus have already been posted around campus, according to the group’s Twitter page.

“[The UC Davis police] recognize there is the potential for conflict in settings where individuals are especially passionate about differing points of view,” Easley said. “We are prepared to do our best to de-escalate potential incidents.”

 

Written by: Sydney Amestoy — campus@theaggie.org