On April 8th the Texas State Student Senate convened to vote on legislation calling for the removal and banning of Turning Point USA from campus.
This came about not simply from clashing viewpoints, but due to the chapter’s history in illegally influencing student government elections, wrongly placing TXST professors on their infamous watchlist, procuring the firing of faculty and adjuncts, carrying metal batons on campus to harass and intimidate, propagandizing to students at the quad via billionaire-funded paid tablers, and use of their many connections to squeeze any who challenge them.
When the legislation was introduced last week the right-wing propaganda machine began spiraling. Breaking with their constant calls to ban and silence leftist voices on campus, the conservative groups at TXST immediately began calling for free speech, claiming they are the world’s loudest and proudest proponents of the 1st amendment. These groups (which included the Young Conservatives and TXST Republicans) held gatherings in the quad and posed for pictures at homes together in “solidarity.” On campus they passed out flyers with the names, faces, and info of senators on them, labeling them Stalinists not because of accuracy, but for inflaming. As the week closed each side braced for what would surely be a confrontation.
Various groups made sure students knew what time and place the hearing would be, so they could arrive in support of the brave senators who introduced it. This caused the alt-lite to make hurried posts claiming antifa super-soldiers would be arriving to squash free speech.
At the hearing tensions were rigid and a skilled musician could have played a somber song of conflict off it. Each side had brought its supporters, dressed in regalia. On the right side of the auditorium were MAGA and cowboy hats, capitalist suits, fascist undercuts, and fine-pressed plaid. On the left stood proudly black student groups alongside transgender student groups, with students sporting abolish ICE, anti-fascist apparel, and comfy clothes for movement in case any altercations occurred.
What followed was a terse three-hour marathon of impassioned speakers and audience participation. Often, a member of the audience would grow too “rowdy” for the police officers standing by, and would be forcefully escorted out, exiled to the cracked-open doors. By the end, dozens would be outside. We were reminded often that even if the resolution passed, it would not go into effect immediately. It would go higher up on the chain, through the grad house, the faculty, and then the President. It was always a long shot, as TXST University President is in cahoots with Republican big-wigs such as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. It’s the nature of the game that those on the college board are privy to those in power, and in Texas that power is right-winged and repressive. The sad truth is that when fighting TPUSA with their immense resources and ruling class support, there are limited ways to attack them. Yet we will never not try. Before the vote, the wording of the resolution was changed from banning to placing TPUSA on suspension pending review.
But then the ballot opened. Nine senators voted aye, eight nay, and four abstained. The resolution passed, TPUSA was officially condemned. Activists celebrated, began chanting, hugging, happy for at least one small job well done.
However, a minute later the presider came back and informed that according to the bylaws, since there were 21 senators total, and only 9 voted yes, it was not a true-enough majority. They wanted to revote. Yet in order to do this, 2/3 of the senators needed to vote yes on a redo. This is where the resolution failed. Not because a majority did not wish or vote for it, but because just shy of 2/3 did not wish for a revote.
Afterward, altercations occurred between activists and TPUSA, emotions boiling over from activist’s years of being fucked over. True to form, the President of the chapter, Stormi Rodriguez, pulled out her phone, began rolling for the next big hit on Infowars. They went down the student center stairs with a barely restrained grin, joyous in their antagonization, in their victory through technicality.
The cops continued to press outward, yelling at students what to do, where to go. Their triggering brought a student to attempt suicide by jumping over the railing. Thankfully they were held back by friends.
Now that the clear-headedness of morning has arrived, as with most events, each group is extracting what it desires from what happened. Charlie Kirk has already tweeted that TPUSA is banned from TXST despite this not being true. He has riled up his uneducated masses into a frenzy calling to defund the university and eradicate the liberal threat. But truth or nuance has never been the aim of the right. Stormi’s video is already making the rounds, another out of context “crazy liberal” threatening “innocent conservatives.” It will float freely in the echo chambers of the repressive for the next few days, reinforcing their bias, instigating another likely right-wing mass shooter, and then they will move on to the next day’s news.
The activist community can find solace in that a majority of voting senators did vote to condemn TPUSA. That is a good step that would not have happened even a year ago. Progress is not always measured in outright victories, but also the failed attempts that galvanize. Even if a full victory had been achieved, today the Dean of Students put out a statement letting it be known they only ban organizations if they are under disciplinary sanctions, and rebuked the student senate for overreaching their authority. What comes next is to go after TP through disciplinary actions, focusing on the vile individual acts their members have committed, and informing the higher-ups adequately of the threat they pose campus.
While TPUSA was able to escape through bureaucracy, students reminded them soundly they are being watched and checked, and can offer a legitimate challenge to right-wing hegemony on college campuses.
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