Political discussions can get ugly.
But at Turning Point USA, a club new to Ball State this semester, the members aim to talk about political issues in a civil, nonpartisan manner.
They stay away from social problems — which is where the attacks can get personal, said founder and president Luke Wiese — and focus instead on issues like health care, taxes, gun laws and free speech on college campuses.
The group was founded as a conservative nonprofit and hopes to get students to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets and limited government.
Even so, its goal is to get students talking about issues through nonpartisan debate and discussion.
“If my job on campus is to talk about issues, I need to do it from both sides,” Wiese said. “I think working in a bipartisan manner … allows us to bring kids from both sides to talk about issues and think about best way to fix them.”
Wiese started a Turning Point chapter at Ball State because he said he didn’t feel there was a group on campus that informed students well about political issues.
“I felt like there was a need for grassroots activism on college campuses where you take a nonpartisan look at things and … talk about these issues with students to enhance their knowledge in the political world,” Wiese said.
At one meeting in late February, the group held a round table discussion and invited students with any political belief to attend. The nonpartisan style gets rid of the party barrier and lets people just focus on the ideas, said Matt Organ, a senior telecommunications major.
“At times we disagreed and it was obvious, but no one got violent or like ‘You’re wrong, I hate you,’” Organ said. “As long as people are willing to discuss ideas and the implementation of ideas, we’ll always be open to discussion.”
Because most Republicans aren’t going to go to a Ball State Democrats meeting, and vice versa for Democrats, Organ said, Turning Point lets students hear opinions from the other side of the aisle.
“Many people removed friends from Facebook because … ‘Oh I don’t agree with you,’ but now all that’s on your feed is people you agree with,” Organ said. “I think that’s negative for society. I think the more people can discuss … and get ideas out there, the better society will be.”
“What Turning Point is doing is making it so students are able to work together, regardless of political parties, and come together to fix issues,” Wiese said.
Wiese hopes to host more round table discussions later in the semester because he found the first one so rewarding.