Forced off campus, TPUSA event goes off without a fuss

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Forced off campus, TPUSA event goes off without a fuss

Shane Rene | The DePaulia

Shane Rene | The DePaulia

Shane Rene | The DePaulia

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DePaul University’s Turning Point USA (TPUSA) chapter was scheduled to host their “Campus Clash” tour event with conservative activists Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens Tuesday Oct. 16, but both the “campus” and “clash” failed to make an appearance.

After DePaul denied the event permission to speak on campus last week, event coordinators relocated to the J.W. Marriott Hotel in the South Loop. The university cited issues with the organization’s promotion of the event before it was approved by the university and the potential use of hate speech.

DePaul’s very public and controversial history with conservative speakers on campus has drawn extra attention to security and safety from the administration for recent events. Kirk and Owens join a growing list of conservative speakers, including Ben Shapiro, Milo Yiannopoulos, Steven Crowder and Gavin McInnes, who have been prohibited from campus in some capacity. Charles Murray, the controversial Libertarian author of “The Bell Curve,” defied this trend last year, but a strong showing of civil protesters rallied outside his event on campus.

Police stationed outside the J.W. Marriott in anticipation of protests this Tuesday said no demonstrations took place.

“What is DePaul so afraid of?” Kirk, a greater Chicago area native, said during the question-and-answer portion of his speech. “Are they afraid of a room full of conservatives peacefully allowing people that disagree with them to come to the front of the line and have calm discussions with ideas? If they’re scared of that, they aren’t a university. They’re an island of totalitarianism.”

Kirk invited those who disagree with him to skip the long line at the microphone multiple times during the question and answer portion of the event in an effort to incite debate, but only a handful of contrarians took the opportunity. Throughout the night, the crowd remained friendly to Kirk’s point of view.

Owens, TPUSA’s communications director and a black conservative activist who rose to fame for speaking out against notions that all people of color should hold similar political beliefs, was a surprise no-show. Kirk and DePaul’s TPUSA chapter president Kaitlyn Svinning said Owens had jumped at an opportunity to travel to Uganda with the newly-conservative rapper Kanye West. Due to a delay in their travel back to the U.S., Owens was unable to attend.

Race was a major topic of discussion. The largely white crowd accessorized with red MAGA (and “Make DePaul Great Again”) hats was complimented by a vocal contingent of Latin and black TPUSA supporters.

A handful of people of color stood to ask TPUSA’s director of hispanic engagement Anna Paulina, a Mexican and Native American conservative, about being a “closeted conservative” in a liberal family.

One audience member, who identified himself as a Mexican, conservative Trump supporter, asked how to have civil discussions with family and friends who expressed anger at him for supporting the president and his immigration policy.

“I think it depends on the topic that you are speaking on,” Paulina said. “For me, a big one has been, obviously, building the wall — which I do believe we need to build the wall.” She paused for a rousing applause from the crowd.

Paulina encouraged him to stick to the facts when talking about immigration and to avoid framing the conversation around race and the U.S.-Mexico border specifically.

When Kirk took the stage for an hour long address to fans, the conversation about race continued to be a dominant topic, stemming from TPUSA’s recent work with Kanye West and the growing popularity of Owens.

“[Owens] is, I think, one of the most significant people in American politics today to be able to give an entire community the permission to be a conservative,” Kirk said. “…As Owens says, ‘I dream of a country where you cannot guess someone’s political affiliation based on their skin color.’… Unfortunately, that’s not the country we live in.”

Kirk went on to accuse Democrats and university administration for being “race obsessed,” and filtering everything through the lens of identity politics. He says the universities are systematically teaching students to hate America and indoctrinating them to be liberals.

“DePaul knows if Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens hold an event on campus, there will be fewer leftists left on campus,” Kirk said.

After his speech, Kirk was swarmed by red MAGA hats seeking photos and autographs with the 25-year- old conservative activist.

“Here at DePaul (Turning Point chapter) we aim to empower young activists to fight for limited government and freedom and free markets,” Kaitlyn Svinning said in her opening remarks. “At most of our universities they advocate for diversity of ethnicity, but not diversity of thought. So here at DePaul, and at many other universities with conservatives across the country, we like to fight for diversity of thought and this is why we host events like this.”