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Jaimes: Handling conservatism on campus

Marina Jaimes, [email protected]

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This past school year, I served as president for Turning Point USA, a nonprofit organization aimed at promoting limited government and fiscal responsibility. I’m sure that the position as president would always be eventful, but 2017-18 was most definitely one of excitement for college conservatives everywhere.

The position did not come without hesitation — it had many drawbacks. I knew that if I took it, it would be what solely defined me to others on campus, and I would automatically be judged for the reputation of an organization instead of my own. Each week I write in the DI Opinions section, I am crucified in the comments section for the work of Turning Point USA’s national organization. Some readers find it to difficult distinguish the difference between an individual — me — and Turning Point USA as a whole.

RELATED: Point/Counterpoint: Conservative student organization denied at Wartburg College

While I had no idea that my opinion column would bring me the most amount of criticism toward Turning Point USA, I knew there would inevitably be some with the position I held. My goal was to eliminate as many as these complaints as possible and include every voice on campus on the topic of free speech and limited government — ideas that Turning Point USA holds very close to its heart.

In other words, the goal was to not “trigger snowflakes.” I knew I was in a position of creating dialogue that was much needed on this campus while doing it in a way that was respectful to the students, administration, and holders of views that differ from my own. Creating unnecessary havoc on this campus would not only cheapen the value of my degree from the UI but of an organization promoting ideas to more than 1,000 college campuses.

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I can’t say that others in my position have taken the same stance as me. In October 2017, the Turning Point USA chapter at Kent State demonstrated its activism by wearing diapers in an “anti-safe space” event promoting the abolishing of safe zones on campus. This did not only stain the reputation of the chapter but that of Turning Point USA and activists such as me who did not partake in the event. The act quickly got media attention on Twitter and even from conservative news outlet Breitbart.

This was a perfect example of what not to do when aiming to promote healthy dialogue that would end in significant progress being made. Instead of creating a welcoming environment to all students, the members of Kent State chapter made a mockery of their school and failed to create equality for conservative ideas on liberal college campuses.

RELATED: Letter from the Opinion’s Editor: Why I value dialogue over ideology

Serving as president allowed me to voice my opinion to the UISG president and vice president, who showed that all students voices were a priority. Our Turning Point USA chapter provided a “safe space” for students who wanted a break from political correctness and to discuss politics in a friendly setting. All students were welcomed to hear ideas of guest speakers and former political figures in U.S. politics.

Connecting conservative ideas to friendly faces has only helped the fight for free speech and free flow of ideas on campus. Going into election season, it is crucial that conservative activists everywhere remember that their actions reflect more than just themselves. What is important is not triggering liberals but proving that conservatives, and their ideas, are worth taking seriously.

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