For the past six years, the organisation Turning Point USA has been championing the anti-safe space movement. It is an American right-wing organisation dedicated to ridding universities of what they feel is a hypersensitive need for political correctness, which leads to the creation of safe spaces. It works with universities all across the United States promoting conservative values such as limited government, capitalism, and freedom of speech. All three of which in recent years has been challenged by, to name a common example, protests against guest lecturers. Above all, though, TPUSA is proudly dedicated to ridding universities of free speech-hindering safe spaces. It seems that students in the United Kingdom, myself included, are catching on as well.
There’s a reason why this organisation is based in the United States. Donald Trump’s severe lack of etiquette and condoning of human rights violations have sparked a resurgence in liberal values among Americans. But the American right wing is much more conservative than that of any other Western country. Conversely, in the US, ‘socialist’ is used as an insult to left-wing people, while actual left-wing parties in Europe are legitimately, and proudly socialist. So regardless of how many American college students participate in anti-Trump rallies or wear Bernie 2016 stickers, Turning Point USA still has strong chapters in over a thousand universities across the US.
So here’s the potential issue. There are of course conservative British students, but when the news broke, the foetal UK chapters were described as ‘conservative with a small c’. I neither hope nor think the movement will fail: after all, Turning Point has already met with students at several elite universities in the UK, and have been in contact with students from more. However, due to the general leftist leanings of Europe, I simply question, come springtime, how Turning Point will expand and adapt in the United Kingdom.
Universities in the UK have seen their fair share of overly political correct actions. For example, Cardiff University students protested famous feminist Germaine Greer’s lecture. University of West England gave Jacob Rees-Mogg a less than warm welcome. But, perhaps most infamously, students at Manchester painted over a mural of Rudyard Kipling’s beloved poem ‘If’ with a more ‘suitable’ verse by black poet Maya Angelou, as they felt Kipling’s writing promoted imperialism and racism.
I disagree with all of these actions, so I can see why students at Oxford and King’s College London, to name a couple universities, have reached out to start chapters of Turning Point. Founder Charlie Kirk has said that he wants these chapters to be ‘a grassroots movement’ in the UK. Students will have their own agency as to how they combat safe spaces on their campuses, so whether these chapters are conservative with a lowercase ‘c’ or an uppercase one, the students of the UK have spoken: we are no longer allowing ‘safe spaces’ to hinder our non-offensive expression at university.