Turning Point USA stirs debate at ASNMSU senate meeting


Shane Buchanan

ASNMSU gathered Thursday Feb. 20 for a senate meeting.

The 63rd Senate of the Associated Students of New Mexico State University passed an appropriation bill for the chartered student organization Turning Point USA at NMSU that came with much debate on the Senate floor on Feb. 20. 

Turning Point USA at NMSU is a new organization at NMSU, being that this school year is its first year being charted under NMSU’s Campus Activities. It also categorized as a political organization per its NMSU Student Organization Charter Form. 

President and treasurer of Turning Point USA at NMSU Cameron Gambini said that this collegiate chapter of Turning Point is to bring together students who agree on views that support free speech, capitalism and other political topics.  

“It’s non profit 501©(3)  organization, nonprofit, nonpartisan. So, with our chapter here on campus, we have people range from calling themselves socialist to conservative to libertarian—so we don’t care what you are, as long as you agree with one of the things we promote,” Gambini said. 

Kristie Gallacher, senator of the Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences College, sponsored Bill 113 which made an appropriation to the account of Turning Point USA at NMSU for their trip the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit from Dec. 19-22 in West Palm Beach, Florida. 

Appropriation bills passed by the senate allow for ASNMSU to reimburse individual students or student organizations 70% of what was spent for conference, presentation or competitive travel. Bill 113 will reimburse the chapter for money spent on flights, registration fees and hotel rooms. 

Senator Amy Lucero of the Health & Social Services College said that she would not supporting the bill because she said she believes the organization discriminates against minorities. 

“I might be alone on this, but I am personally voting ‘no’ for this bill being that Turning Point USA has been through so much bigotry and racism by their leaders and stuff like that.” Lucero said. “I just don’t feel it’s ethically right to take student fees from LGBTQ and minority students and you visit a conference like this?” 

Proceeding this comment came a question from Senator Cam Powers asking Gambini what Turning Point USA is and followed up with questioning how the organization is deemed nonpartisan when he has looked up the organization online and claimed that it was listed as a conservative organization.  

Gambini said that Turning Point USA does not endorse specific candidates in politics. 

“The nonpartisan classifies into—we can’t talk about candidates. We can’t say ‘Oh, we support Donald Trump over Hilary Clinton,’ we cannot do that. We cannot say ‘We support Joe Biden over Bernie Sanders.’ Now, free speech, Second Amendment rights—yeah, those are conservative ideals.” Gambini said. “Again, we have people from all over the spectrum. We like to say that our ideas our American.”  

ASNMSU Vice President Melina Burnside intervened by saying she believed that discussion should be pertain to details in the bill, rather than towards TPUSA as a whole. 

“I’m going to make a point of information that if it’s not pertaining to the bill, they are a chartered organization—so they’re just like any other organization here. It doesn’t really matter what your personal affiliations are with an organization—they’re chartered just like anybody else, so if the question is about the bill, then you’re welcome to ask,” Burnside said. 

Gambini later mentioned that students that went on the trip had the chance to attend workshops, listen to speakers and participate in breakaway sessions. One notable speaker from the summit included President Donald Trump.  

Senator David De La Cruz and Pro Tempore Jonathon Ortiz presented comments in support of passing Bill 113. 

Ortiz said that personal views of an organization should not influence appropriations. 

“We may not always agree with what an organization stands for, but at the end of the day, we’re representing students,” Ortiz said. 

De La Cruz provided comments similar in nature to those of Ortiz. 

“Although I do not agree with what this organization does, they [TPUSA] may not agree with the organizations I might like, but I think they have the right as an organization to attend a conference that will enhance their leadership or their interests,” De La Cruz said. 

Before the vote for the bill took place, Senator Powers once again expressed his opposition.  

“My ethics wouldn’t be violated if I voted against this bill—mostly because when I think about all students, I think about LGBT students, I think about students of color. And organizations like Turning Point—the politicians they support, politicians they accompany to that do detrimental harm to certain communities of color, certain sexual orientations—and that’s the problems that I have,” Powers said. 

Twenty-three senators present voted in approval of passing the bill while Senators Lucero and Powers said nay. 

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