- Turning Point USA Founder Charlie Kirk told attendees at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) meeting in Maryland that giving money to higher education would be helping to fund the "destruction of western civilization."
- Kirk, an outspoken conservative activist who claims more than 300 collegiate chapters nationwide in Turning Point USA and more than $5 million in revenue last year, has made a national name for his views on campus free speech and student government election influence.
- Kirk referenced conservative college campuses Hillsdale College in Michigan and Grove City College in Pennsylvania as two institutions that buck the trend of what he perceives as a destructive liberal culture in higher education.
Kirk’s words may have been hyperbolic in nature, but were also a rallying cry for conservatives who believe colleges do not allow freedom of expression or thought because of liberal-slanted culture both on and around the campus. This kind of rhetoric could empower conservative activists on campus, and reignite debate about safe space, hate speech and potential ostracizing of certain groups of students and faculty.
College leaders should work to get ahead of the next wave of dialog, and invite students to create the ways in which all viewpoints can be heard, and through which academic exploration is welcomed in all forms. Leaders who recognized that it only takes one speaker or one sentence to create a firestorm of controversy take the first big step in recognizing that these types of speakers should be welcomed voices on campus as a part of constructive, balanced dialog.