Confusion arises as second TPUSA event approaches
SF State administration suggests professors teach remotely due to uncertainty over event protests.
April 18, 2023
A day before Turning Point USA hosts its second speaker event, SF State Academic Affairs advises professors with evening classes to move online due to an “uncertain level of disruption.” SF State suggested the event be rescheduled, hosted over Zoom or in person outside the campus to account for the limited availability of venues large enough to hold the excessive numbers of attendees.
After Riley Gaines, TPUSA’s chapter at SF State is hosting an event with Jon Root, former San Jose Sharks in-arena host tomorrow at 7 p.m. In response to SF State President Lynn Mahoney’s statement Root tweeted that Mahoney is “seemingly okay with” the event being held in the quad.
According to Robert King, director of communications for the Office of the President, TPUSA worked with Free Speech & Time, Place & Manner (TPM), a policy for events or activities on SF State Grounds that helps student organizations host events concerning free expression, including how to book a room.
“The room the student organization originally requested and agreed to, had a fire marshal-approved capacity of 75,” said King via email.
King confirmed that the university worked with TPM guidelines and TPUSA to find another place capable of accommodating 133 attendees. However, according to King, “the student organization continued to accept RSVPs, and they currently say they have 800.”
On April 15, Jon Root posted in response to a question he received on Instagram “Do they have an exit plan for you at the SFSU event? Concerned about your safety especially after Riley.”
Root said in a 24-hour story “SFSU is trying to cancel the event. If they do, we’ll sue. We have solid safety measures in place. Keep praying hearts are softened.”
According to TPM, “the university may impose reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on the exercise of the right of free expression in order to preserve the safe and orderly operation of the campus.”
According to King, none of the rooms large enough to accommodate the crowd will be available on April 19. King added that “TPM offered the student org several options: another date for the event when a larger venue is available, a virtual option that could accommodate up to 3000 attendees at the same date and time, or off-campus venues with larger capacities that may be able to host the event on April 19th.”
According to the university, TPUSA declined all the options and will host the event in the Quad.
In a campus-wide email, Mahoney addressed the event and referred to Root as a “speaker whose message many here will find abhorrent.” Mahoney emphasized to “engage in protest that does not amplify the message. Boycott the event, protest peacefully, attend the teach-in being held that day, promote your own values and support one another” and stated, “I write today to implore all not to disrupt the event or attempt to shout down the speaker, or engage negatively with other participants.”
In response to Mahoney’s statement, Root posted on Twitter “No part of me or any of the TPUSA students on campus want violence but we do want it called out when it happens to other speakers. I could care less about personal recognition. This event isn’t about me. It’s about the truth and conservative voices being heard just weeks after a horrific attack on Riley Gaines.”
Root ends the post by welcoming everyone to the event and maintains there would be opportunities for discourse afterward.
TPUSA has a history of using college campuses to fuel political and social polarization, as reported by GGX last week. On April 8, TPUSA Bay Area advertised the event as a “round 2” on their 24-hour Instagram story.
Mahoney invited students to not “amplify the divisive messages of others but instead draw attention to speakers and events that support our individual and collective values.
“The Dean of Students Office hopes that students embrace all of the things mentioned in order to keep themselves and each other safe and to not amplify divisive speech and messages,” said Pam Su, interim associate vice president for Student Life & Dean of Students, echoing Mahoney’s message.
Department of Creative Writing Associate Professor Andrew Joron said he was instructed to move his class online in response to a message sent by Acting Department Chair, May-Lee Chai. According to Joron, Chai said, “out of an abundance of caution for student safety and the safety of faculty and staff, as Acting Chair, I am urging all creative writing classes to be moved online for Wednesday, April 19.”
“I intend to invite the students to voice their thoughts,” said Joron, as he affirmed that campus events will be part of tomorrow’s class discussion.
It is unclear how many professors will be holding in-person classes tomorrow. The university will maintain scheduled evening events and the Department of Sociology and Sexuality Studies and LGBTQ+ Faculty at SF State are hosting a Teach-In for Trans Rights and Resistance in the Humanities building from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.