If Turning Point Comes to Your Campus

Among Turning Point USA’s tactics is tabling on campus to promote the establishment of local chapters. The AAUP recognizes that students should be free to organize and join associations to promote their interests and to express their views. However, since this group’s activities include targeting faculty with misleading listings on its Professor Watchlist, often leading to vicious online harassment, it is important to make campus constituencies aware of these activities. Steps you can take include the following.

Talk to Other Faculty

Talk to members of your AAUP chapter or faculty senate or to other faculty members to make sure everyone is aware of the group and its activities. When members of a chapter have strong relationships and know their colleagues’ motivations for taking action and being involved, trust is built and organizing work gets done. The best way to start building these relationships is to start having conversations. To get started, commit to having a 15-minute conversation about Turning Point with five of your colleagues. Here’s all you need:

  • A short list of the colleagues you plan to speak with, their office numbers, and the day and general time you want to try and pop over to their offices. Experience shows us that when you make a plan, you’re more likely to follow through.
  • The primer about Turning Point included in this toolkit.
  • An ask. What do you want to walk away from the conversation with? Maybe you want to invite them to an informal lunchtime discussion with you and a few colleagues to discuss next steps? Or, if you have regular AAUP chapter meetings on campus, invite them to come and discuss targeted harassment of faculty at the next one.
Don’t overthink it. The point of the conversation is to learn about your colleagues and their concerns, to share information, to build relationships on campus, and to recruit interested colleagues to fight targeted harassment of faculty. If you walk away from a conversation knowing more about your colleague than when you started, it went well! If you walk away from a conversation having recruited them to take some small step in your effort, it went very well! If you walk away from the conversation feeling like you did most of the talking, you’ll need to adjust your approach. These conversations are about listening and learning about your colleagues’ concerns.

Organize an Information Session for Colleagues

A great way to start mobilizing your colleagues and fellow AAUP members around concerns about Turning Point or other concerns is to organize an informal info session. An info session not only serves to educate your colleagues but also fosters relationship-building on campus. Basic needs for an info session are:

  • Space—a classroom, student center, etc.
  • The Turning Point primer in this toolkit. This is information that can be discussed in the session and participants can take the one-pager with them to share with colleagues.
  • Facilitators—one or two facilitators to keep the conversation moving.
  • An agenda—an agenda that covers the basics: the problem and the change you, as a group, would like to see.
  • A sign-in sheet—something to keep track of contact information for people who attended the session.
  • An ask—what do you want participants to do next? Participants could be asked to
    • commit to hosting an info session in their own department;
    • have a 15-minute conversation about free speech legislation with five colleagues; or
    • set up a table at an upcoming event, share the one-pager, and discuss the issue with members of the
      campus community.

Let Administrators Know What is Happening

As a group, go talk to your administration and make sure administrators are aware of TPUSA’s methods before an incident occurs.

Make Sure Turning Point Operates within the Rules

Familiarize yourself with your institution’s student conduct policies. If the tabling is disruptive or occuring in a way that violates university policies, contact campus police or security.

Raise Awareness among Students and Wider Campus Communities

  • Within your university’s policies, organize a counter-demonstration or table. The AAUP holds that students and faculty should be free to support and oppose causes by orderly means that do not disrupt the regular and essential operations of the institution.
  • Hand out our info sheet on Turning Point USA and the Professor Watchlist.
  • Be aware that primary strategies of right-wing groups in their attacks on higher education are baiting opponents and distributing misleading recordings and photos. So, be aware that your protest actions may be recorded and distributed.