Image Credits: Miranda Daniel / Red & Black

I went to Campus Clash hosted by the UGA chapter of Turning Point USA and here’s what happened.

Turning Point USA argues that college campuses are liberal brainwashing cesspools and students need to be encouraged to think for themselves. Campus Clash is geared towards college students and the event is put on by a group of college students, with the support of Turning Point USA.  They had to change the venue four times, so they could accommodate everyone who wanted to attend.

The panel at Campus Clash at UGA consisted of a panel of four people:

Charlie Kirk, the founder of TPUSA

Candance Owens, spokeswoman and communications director for TPUSA;

Kimberly Guilfoyle, political commentator and former Assistant District Attorney

Donald Trump Jr., businessman and advisor to the President

The panel talked about the challenges of being a conservative on a college campus, identity politics, conservative ideas, and the President’s agenda. Their intention was to encourage and engages students to think outside of the liberal box that colleges and universities impose on them. The panelists spoke for about 20-30 minutes. Then, they opened it up for questions.

The UGA TPUSA chapter coordinated with Athens-Clarke County to have police officers nearby, streets closed, and a specific area for protesters. And yes, there were protests. While Athens is the most liberal county in Georgia, there aren’t a ton of protests in the area. To be honest, this was my first experience with protesters. I was caught off guard. As my friend and I were walking to stand in line, we passed the protesters holding their signs and chanting. These protesters weren’t rude or totally obnoxious, but it was a different story with the protesters inside the venue. They were very disruptive and completely ridiculous. They interrupted the speakers. Not only were they disruptive when they walked out, they also had people who were planted to ask questions. 

Our First Amendment is incredibly important and must be protected. Free speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom to protest are fundamental to our lives as Americans and something we should never take for granted. While the protesters were annoying and disruptive, I am grateful I live in a country where we can protest. I might disagree with their ideas, but I hope to defend their right to have and express their opinion.

That being said, the protesters were rude and disruptive. Instead of contributing to an environment where people with different opinions could have open dialogue, they attempted to silence others by yelling and screaming over them. I guess that was the point, but they wasted time, looked ignorant, and frankly wasted an opportunity.

When you are given the chance to ask questions, use your time wisely. Any time you have a microphone in hand, speak clearly and with confidence. Sometimes, people asked good questions. Other times, they used their chance to hold a microphone to bash conservatives and others in the room. It was clear that their intentions were not to engage in a meaningful conversation or have a question answered, but only to cause a scene. They didn’t have a coherent message and they stumbled over their words. They argued with the panelists, and frankly they took time away from people who could actually contribute to the conversation.

The bottom line is this: if we want to live in a country that values freedom of speech, we need to be a country that values listening. When people who disagree get together and have a productive conversation, problems can be solved. When those who we disagree with speak, we need to listen, think about their arguments, and craft better arguments ourselves.

Hannah M