Turning Point invites conservative speaker to campus

Emerson’s Turning Point USA chapter plans to host conservative organizer Gabriel Nadales to give a speech on Nov. 20, according to the organization’s president.

Camilo Vilaplana, president of the 30-member Emerson chapter of Turning Point, said the event is scheduled for 8 p.m. in Walker 210.

Vilaplana says Turning Point also plans to bring Republican Lincoln Rafael Díaz-Balart, former Florida Congressman, to campus next semester to discuss Cuban issues and the politics of Latin America. Vilaplana also said that he hopes to start a Young Americans for Liberty chapter at Emerson soon, to promote libertarian values and give students an alternative to the often criticized Turning Point organization. 

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Nadales works at the Leadership Institute, a conservative activist organization, as a regional coordinator. According to institute’s website, Nadales used to be a member of Antifa until 2013 when he joined the organization. Fox and Friends, Tucker Carlson Tonight hosted Gabriel and is a regular on Varney & Co. on the Fox Business Network.

Vilaplana said Turning Point and the Leadership Institute plan to fund the event. The junior said in a phone interview with The Beacon that he is expecting to receive backlash from the student body and anticipates protests at the event.

“We shouldn’t be afraid of putting our views out there, and we shouldn’t be afraid to speak in a political way, because we are in a free country and it’s a place where we should be able to have these dialogues and come to terms with each other and be able to find the points were we agree with each other,” Vilaplana said.

Jason Meier, director of Student Engagement and Leadership, said ECPD is not planning to be present at the students-only event, and no students have brought up any concerns regarding the event. However, Meier added that he had conversations with Vilaplana regarding what they will do in the event that problems arise.

“Being in a space where it is just Emerson students is really key,” he said in a phone interview. “I’ve been working with Camillo and the student leaders of the organization to have conversations about—what do we do if there is a protest? What do we do if there is disruption? And how do we make this a space, again, where conversation can happen.” 

Vilaplana said his goal with starting a Turning Point chapter at Emerson in the spring 2019 semester was to provide a space for conservative and libertarian students to gather and share ideas as well as promote dialogue.

“There’s a lot of people in Turning Point who have conservative views or values who could agree with people with liberal values,” he said. “There’s a lot more overlap than people think.”

Six chapters of Turning Point USA exist at various college campuses in Massachusetts. In Boston, Harvard University, Boston College, and the UMass Boston each have current chapters, according to the Turning Point USA website.

National media have scrutinized Turning Point, including allegedly ignoring campaign finance laws by aiding Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaigns during the 2016 elections, among other campus-specific controversies. 

Meier said that the college supports all endeavors that promotes open dialogues among students. 

“Student engagement and leadership helps all of our students,” Meier said. “Whatever it is that that student is working on, we support them in their mission to actualize that vision. It doesn’t matter what the topic is. We’re just here to support.”

Vilaplana said that while the Emerson community frequently attacks conservative organizations, he hopes that this event can ease the tensions between the ideological split on campus. 

“I believe people think we’re there to create chaos, and people believe that we’re there to trigger people… we just want to talk to people, and we want to make sure that people understand that conservatives and libertarians are not trying to create trouble,” Vilaplana said. “It really feels like it’s very hard to talk about all this stuff on campus.”

 

Updated 11/6/19: This article was updated to include comment from Director of Student Engagement and Leadership Jason Meier.

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