For the first time in recent history, other students gathered to protest and petition the meeting throughout the school grounds. On Tuesday, May 17, 2022, during Titan Time, a group of students held a meeting for a Turning Point USA (TPUSA) chapter at West. The result was a shattered glass table in the Collab Lab, an attempted club meeting, and over 500 signatures on the petition.
About four months later, the situation has cooled off. “I knew it was just gonna be one big deal for maybe a week, and then people were gonna forget about it, which happened. And that’s why I wasn’t super worried,” the club’s president, senior Kali Michael, said. “Throughout the summer people forgot about it and went on with their lives.”
As for this school year, the situation is currently at a standstill. Michael said the club has plans to resume meetings this fall and is in the process of finding a teacher that will allow them to use their room before school for meetings. “We have everything else in order to start and be ready for this school year, I didn’t really want to start until around September to October.”
Principal Chad Hertzog said that he has not spoken to any student this year interested in TPUSA at LSW. “As it ended last year, they did request to be a student-led group: not a club, not a school affiliated club,” Hertzog said. “I’ve not heard from anyone this year who has requested that. And if we did, we would certainly listen to their request as we would anybody else.”
Senior Faith Glasglow, one of the petition leaders, said she had not officially heard of TPUSA returning to West this year either. “I don’t get it. I talked to Hertzog because I really think it would be a great idea for them to just start like a young conservatives or young Republicans club,” Glasgow said. “We would love to see students getting more politically active. But getting funding from a chapter of an organization, [like] Turning Point USA, that is notoriously like racist and homophobic and transphobic, is not productive in any manner.”
Michael said that the group is planning on returning this year with the same values and aim to bring students together to discuss socio-economics, capitalism, and freedoms.
Michael said her goal for the club was to spread the truth. “I don’t think there’s a your truth or my truth, I think there’s the truth, and nobody’s really talking about it anymore,” Michael said. “In the media, and people’s opinions and different perspectives being thrown around, nobody really knows what the truth is anymore about different current events, or topics that are being talked about a lot.”
Glasgow said the idea of TPUSA continuing to have a place at West will never sit right with her. “It’s disappointing. And it makes students feel unsafe. I’m disappointed that it’s a continued conversation because it’s so easily resolved.”
Michael said that the chapter is not affiliated to any political party, although it holds conservative values. “I am open [to] all perspectives, I want pretty much every meeting to be kind of like a debate…we’ll have one specific topic in-mind open to discussion or an activity that would be able to represent the topic of discussion.”
For right now, Glasgow said she will not actively fight against this group until she knows for sure that it is a problem again. “If Kali doesn’t do anything or if nobody wants to continue the club, it’s not a problem anymore, right? It’s been resolved, essentially. But I guess if it pops up again, I mean, here we go. I’m not gonna let it occur, because it makes people uncomfortable,” Glasgow said.
Hertzog said he was concerned that an uproar like last year’s protest may happen again. “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t because what happened last year, happened. It was real. So it could happen again. But I think the best thing we could do is work to make sure that we help educate everybody in this building that people can come together and they can have peaceful discourse.” Hertzog said, “I understand that the best thing you can do is to allow different opinions to exist. Because the most valuable change in the world comes when people with differing opinions can listen to each other, even disagree, but walk away saying: ‘okay, you know what? I listened. I don’t agree. But I listened.’ And we’re gonna move forward.”