(Story updated with response from Turning Point USA, 4:40 p.m. MDT, 2/10/2021)
BUTTE — Some faculty and staff at Montana Tech in Butte are making claims that the recent approval of a conservative student group called Turning Point USA could lead to intimidation and threats against professors and others on campus.
“This group is known for affiliating with racist and neo-Nazi and other alt-right groups,” said Montana Tech Professor Pat Munday.
Turning Point USA’s website says it promotes principles of limited government, capitalism and freedom on campus. Some Montana Tech staff says it intimidates liberal professors by putting them on a national watch list.
“Professors who have been put on that list have been subject to harassment and even to death threats,” said English Professor Henry Gonshak.
The faculty members claim they are not against students or clubs that have political views.
“We don’t want suppress free speech, we don’t want to in any way try to tell students what clubs they can or can’t have, but we do want to promote awareness that this is a very dangerous road to go down when we start putting politics above truth,” said Munday.
And some faculty are concerned about the state’s proposal to allow firearms on campus, which, they believe, could compound the problem.
“Saying that people can bring guns to college campuses, I think that is extremely dangerous and I think people are going to die, I really feel people are going to die because of this,” said Gonshak.
Those that support the legislation believe that having guns on campus will better protect people if violence should break out.
MTN News left messages with Turning Point USA seeking comment and received the following statement on Wednesday in an email from spokesperson Andrew Kolvet:
The quote by Professor Pat Munday is both defamatory and wildly inaccurate. TPUSA is a mainstream conservative organization that encourages people of all races and backgrounds to participate. TPUSA even hosts annual events and gatherings catering to minority communities too often underrepresented in the political arena, including a Black Leadership Summit, a Latino Leadership Summit, a Jewish Leadership Summit, among many other uplifting and positive events. Professor Munday is either the victim of misinformation and should do some more research, or willfully ignorant, either way he owes the amazing student leaders at TPUSA Montana Tech an immediate apology.
Had the professor done any research, he would know that the racist alt-right actively fights TPUSA because the organization actively fights racism and expels anyone who espouses those ideas and values.
Regarding Professor Watch List. Here is our statement.
Professor Watch List does not advocate for the removal of a professor from their position, endorse/encourage intimidation or violence toward any professor, nor does it attempt to infringe on anyone's First Amendment rights. The website's goal is to make people aware of what is going on in classrooms. PWL compiles info from articles that are already published by reliable sources and houses them in one place as an informative resource for parents and students. PWL simply highlights what each professor has said, or how they've discriminated against students based upon their political views and values, which is invaluable to both parents as well as their conservative students who are walking onto an often hostile campus environment.