*An earlier version of this article included a photo with a student debating with Turning Point USA on UMSL campus. This student is NOT affiliated with Turning Point USA.
Dustin Steinhoff, News Editor
A Facebook post from Turning Point USA at UMSL regarding the act of smashing pumpkins, representing socialism, in the University of Missouri–St. Louis quad resulted in concern from UMSL administration for safety and potential property damage possibilities.
While not an official student organization yet, Turning Point USA is currently in the process of becoming one. Samuel Goodman, sophomore, criminology and criminal justice, created a Facebook event on the Turning Point USA at UMSL Facebook page titled “Smashing Socialist Pumpkins” Oct. 5, with the event scheduled for Oct. 30. The description of the event stated, “Come by the quad right outside the bridge and smash pumpkins with us! We’re smashing pumpkins to symbolize smashing socialism and it’s violent non-American ways!”
Associate Director of the Millennium Student Center Dorian Hall is the member of UMSL administration who initially took concern with Turning Point USA’s supposed plans on UMSL’s campus. Some of the duties of his position include risk management and ensuring students know what is happening at events that take place in the Millennium Student Center and the quad.
Hall had been informed by a student that a group on campus was planning on having an event on the quad where they would be smashing pumpkins. According to Hall, the organization had not gone through the required steps a group must take through UMSL in order to have an event on campus and therefore was not made aware of the group’s plans.
Hall also had concerns about the lack of safety that smashing pumpkins in the quad entailed, as swinging a bat around the quad could result in injuries if not properly supervised and could cause damage to the concrete ground making up the quad.
Hall proceeded to contact Goodman who is president of the UMSL chapter of Turning Point USA, informing him that the pumpkin-smashing event could not take place on the quad.
However, Goodman claims the group was never intending to smash pumpkins in the quad.
“It was more of an expression of smashing socialist pumpkins. We weren’t actually going to be smashing pumpkins on the ground. The administration was told by a student that saw the post and told us that because we weren’t an RSO that we weren’t allowed to smash the pumpkins or have the space,” Goodman said.
According to Goodman, the group only planned to have a table set up in the quad to provoke conversations with students.
“Our original plans for the quad were exactly what we did, have a table to attract people to come and talk to us in order to become potential new members, as well as inform people about our first chapter meeting,” Goodman said.
After being informed the event could not happen, Goodman wrote on the Turning Point at UMSL Facebook page, “UMSL STUDENTS: YOUR ADMINISTRATION IS ATTEMPTING TO VIOLATE YOUR RIGHTS!!! GET OUT THERE AND SHOW THEM WE WON’T BE SILENCED!! Anti-constitutional staff at UMSL are attempting to shut down our event!!!”
However, Hall contends that his reasoning was almost entirely due to the safety concerns that smashing the pumpkins would have caused.
“If we did not think there were going to be students smashing pumpkins in the quad, there would have been no further actions,” Hall said.
Despite the confusions between the two parties, Hall says everything “went smoothly” after everything was sorted out and Goodman says the organization’s table had a good experience on the quad.
“I think the table was very well received by the student body, in general,” Goodman said. “Of course there were some people that didn’t like our anti-socialist messaging, and we welcome them to engage in dialogue as well.”
Turning Point USA is a national organization, with the mission of UMSL’s chapter being “to educate students about the importance of fiscal responsibility, free markets and limited government through nonpartisan debate, dialogue and discussion.”
“We want to create a club where everyone is invited to come and have civil discourse and we want to promote our values of free speech, limited government and fiscal responsibility with fun and engaging activities,” Goodman said.