A look inside Southeastern’s pro-capitalist organization


Symiah Dorsey/The Lion's Roar

Graduate student Emily Bird and junior business major Lauren Wicker pose by the Student Union Breezeway with their Turning Point USA signs.

This post has been updated.

The extent to which the government should control the economy is a pressing debate in the United States. A leading entity in this discussion is Turning Point USA.

Founded by conservative activist Charlie Kirk in 2012, TPUSA is a national pro-capitalist organization with over 1,000 chapters on college campuses. Southeastern’s chapter of Turning Point is currently not officially recognized on campus, but many students have still joined forces to advocate for free-market economies.

Graduate student Emily Bird, an active member of TPUSA, said she believes free markets go hand-in-hand with personal freedom.

“That’s an argument right now within our country: what type of economy we want to have. For us, we promote free markets. Really, it’s just a bunch of freedom-loving Americans who want to promote free markets and free people,” she said.

Although Turning Point nationally identifies as a right-wing organization, Bird said the campus chapter is free from party affiliation.

“It’s a simple group, we’re non-partisan, so we don’t back political candidates or political parties. We’re just getting together, talking about the Constitution and talking about economies,” Bird said.

Lauren Wicker, a junior business major, joined TPUSA to grasp a better understanding of economics. She said she believes free-market conditions are the best way for individuals to generate wealth.

“Personally, I think socialism has no space on the table in American just because of everything that America is founded on. Capitalism encourages and builds up the individual, and it helps people to keep moving forward. It motivates people and builds a strong worth ethic in people so that people can be self-sustainable and not reliant on any other individual to provide for one’s needs,” Wicker said.

As a warning against socialism, many capitalists look to the current economic state of Venezuela. Bird claimed socialism to be the root of Venezuela’s economic plight.

“What we’re seeing in countries like Venezuela is that people are so poor and so hungry at this moment after socialism has taken root. We don’t want people in America to get to that point, and we are very fortunate in this country. Even people who live here in poverty are still in a better place than people in some of these other countries, and we want to keep building them up,” Bird said.

To promote capitalism, TPUSA tables on campus with signs, buttons, stickers and other merchandise. Their slogans often spark conversation, with one of their signs reading: “Women don’t need government to succeed.”

Bird explained why she stands by this statement.

She said, “Women are treated like a special interest group even though we’re over 50% of the population. So, having somebody come in and say ‘We want to give you special benefits and lift you up because you’re women,’ it almost makes it unequal. I believe in this country we are viewed as equals and that women can do anything they set their minds to in this country. So, having someone put their hand out like we can’t do it for ourselves, it’s kind of demeaning.”

Topics of economic and gender equality are some of the reasons Wicker was inspired to join Turning Point in the first place.

“What inspired me to get involved in this is all the political craziness that is going on right now in the world. It’s me just trying to form my own opinions and beliefs about what is going on, and I think having a good understanding of what we believe in as a country can help us not only succeed as individuals but also as a society,” Wicker said.

Wicker encouraged students to get involved and become educated while they are young.

She said, “It’s so important for college students to get involved in this because we are the future. We are young now, and one day, we will be the main voice of this country. If we don’t start educating ourselves now, it might be too late by the time we have more power to make decisions.”

Anyone interested in joining TPUSA can direct message the organization on Instagram @tpusaslu to be added to the email list.