Hate on Campus

Hate on Campus

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Here at Penn State, the temperature rises as the air cools. Like many campuses across the world, there are student groups here which are training grounds for right wing radicals. The most prominent, Turning Point USA, is a national group whose national conference last year featured a Nazi march. Seriously. Of course, TPUSA ‘condemned’ the marchers, but with the lineup of featured speakers: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), well of course the Nazis appeared. They wanted to pledge loyalty. The Nazis flew swastikas and flags stating “DeSantis Country” (Dress & Vakil, 2022).

So, TPUSA has a chapter here at PSU. Each semester, they along with another right-wing group called “Young Americans for Freedom” try to bring in the most incendiary speakers they can get away with. They tried to bring in Gavin McInnis, founder of the Proud Boys last year alongside Blaze TV host Alex Stein. Of course, the Proud Boys showed up and protesting students were assaulted. However, the protest worked, and McInnes and Stein were denied the right to speak. I worked at my LGBT Center job that morning, and Proud Boys lingered outside the door for a while, phones in hand.

In any case, On Oct 10, TPUSA and YAF tried to bring in Riley Gaines, former D1 swimmer who has made being a sore loser a career. She lost to, among others Lia Thomas (transgender female swimmer from University of Pa) and has been complaining ever since. Never mind that she lost to other women too, but losing to Thomas has made her whine ever since. Now she’s supported by the “Leadership Institute” which is (say it with me) another training ground for right wing extremists. Among their graduates is Jim Jordan, the MAGA pedophile enabler from Ohio State who may become Speaker of the House. Funding for her “center” also comes from the American Family Association, who the Southern Policy Law Center has designated a hate group (SPLC, 2023).

Anyway, so TPUSA tried to bring Gaines to campus, but didn’t put in the necessary paperwork. While the only advertisements for her appearance were (allegedly) anti semitic flyers distributed the previous week (LeBan, 2023), the paperwork error was embarrassing and jeopardized the appearance. The head of YAF on campus said they advertised “through “word of mouth” and among their “own circles.”’ (Gaines of course lashed out at PSU on her social media accounts. In the end, she ended up speaking via bullhorn on the lawn of the student union, surrounded by her paid security. Her message of hate was drowned out by a group of pro-transgender protesters making noise and chanting “can’t swim”, “trans lives matter,” and “no home for transphobia” (Frepoli et al, 2013). There were two arrests for disorderly conduct when a couple of non-student protesters turned over the TPUSA table.

Gaines later spoke at the Wagner building, which among other things is home to the various ROTC groups on campus as well as classrooms.

The problem is this- only higher-level staff were informed about who was coming. The administration was hoping to avoid an incident such as the violence caused when McInnes and Stein appeared last year. However, word got out enough that protesters outnumbered the right wingers.

That very night, Uncensored America (another fascist training group) announced that Alex Stein and “special guests” would be appearing at the Bryce Jordan Center on campus on October 23. The BJC is the big indoor arena on campus where the basketball teams play and big concerts are held (Springsteen was there recently). However, Stein will not be in the main hall, but a side room. So, it seems that bringing Gaines on campus was the warmup to the fascistic main event. No doubt that the “special guests” will include proud boys. I couldn’t find any ticket information though.

Uncensored America also stated its intent to bring James Lindsay to campus as well (Moyer, 2023). He’s another right-wing whack job who espouses white supremacy, anti- trans hate, and conspiracy theories. The SPLC has labeled him as an “extremist” (SPLC, 2023).

In related news, queer Arizona State professor David Boyles was followed and assaulted by TPUSA thugs last week. Aside from his teaching duties, he arranges drag story hours, which the GQP conflates with pedophilia. TPUSA posted an edited video of the encounter on their X site, while surveillance video shows the professor being assaulted (Skipworth, 2023). A related article in Inside Higher ed discusses the attack in addition to the TPUSA “Professor watchlist” which they use to target professors whose views with whom they disagree so they can be harassed or worse. Professor Boyle is on that list (Quinn, 2023). To date, only one Penn State professor is on that list (I looked it up.)

Right. So, my point is simply that there are organizations on campuses that are training the next generation of the GQP, and they are being trained to hate anyone not like them- especially transgender women. They are allied with the Proud Boys and, I would imagine, other violent groups. What can be done? Normally I’d say counter their Hate with education and patience. After all, that’s why I’m here at PSU banging my head against the wall of academia. However, TPUSA and related fascists are upping the ante by assaulting those they hate. They’re here at PSU, and fortunately there are people here: students, faculty, and others, who do their best to counter them. Will that be enough? I don’t know. The tide of Hate rises around the world. Hopefully, it can be stopped.

Be well.


“American Family Association.” Southern Poverty Law Center. Accessed 16 Oct. 2023.

Dress, Brad & Caroline Vakil. “Turning Point USA Condemns Neo-Nazi Protesters Outside Conservative Convention That Drew Trump.” The Hill, 24 July 2022, .

Frepoli, Leoardo, Milan Varia &. Abigail Shanley, “Protestors, Supporters Gather on HUB Lawn for Riley Gaines’ Free Speech Rally.” The Daily Collegian, 10 Oct. 2023, .

“James Lindsay.” Southern Poverty Law Center,  Accessed 16 Oct. 2023.

LaBan, Arthur, “‘This Is Not State College’: County Officials Condemn Antisemitic Pamphlets.” The Daily Collegian, 12 Oct. 2023.

Moyer, Josh. “Right-Wing Speaker Returning to Penn State a Year after His Appearance Provoked Protesters .” Centre Daily Times, 11 Oct. 2023.

Quinn, Ryan. “Arizona State Instructor Followed, Injured by Turning Point USA Crew.” Inside Higher Ed. Accessed 16 Oct. 2023.

Skipworth, William. “Police Investigating Alleged Attack On Queer Arizona Professor By Turning Point USA Members, Report Says.” Forbes. Accessed 16 Oct. 2023.

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Category: Transgender Politics


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