President Crow on Turning Point USA bullying ASU faculty
Harassment or threatening behavior toward ASU employees is dangerous, unsettling and will not be tolerated.
The following is a message from President Michael Crow.
To the ASU faculty and staff,
Earlier this week, David Boyles, an instructor in the ASU English Department, was followed, harassed, pushed and injured by two men identified by Turning Point USA as their “reporter” and “cameraman.” I’d like to share with you some of my views about this matter.
It is astounding to me that individuals from Turning Point USA would wait for an ASU instructor to come out of his class to follow him, harass him and ultimately shove him to the ground, bloodying his face. Cowards that they are and so confident in the legality and appropriateness of their actions, the Turning Point USA “reporter” and “cameraman” then ran away from the scene before police arrived. This is the kind of outrageous conduct that you would expect to see from bullies in a high school cafeteria. I spoke with Boyles about what transpired when he was walking from his class to his car and I watched the video of the incident multiple times. It is stunning for Turning Point USA leadership to endorse, defend and fund such activity in the name of “freedom.”
ASU is a comprehensive institution with nearly 7,000 courses of all kinds that engage with countless aspects of our world’s culture, science, art and more. This creates learning opportunities for all of our students and the breadth of their interests and backgrounds. Such teaching, writing and discourse is a regular part of the creative expression and academic freedom offered by ASU to its faculty members. Students have many options for the courses that they take, and faculty are provided discretion in the manner in which they select and use content for teaching and scholarship. Boyles as an instructor at ASU teaches writing and English literature including a class which draws from LGBTQ+ literature. He is part of an academic community that appropriately engages our students across the entire spectrum of human experience and expression.
Earlier this year, I wrote to Turning Point USA to request that it remove ASU professors from its Professor Watchlist. I did not receive a response. Instead, the incident we’ve all now witnessed on the video shows Turning Point’s refusal to stop dangerous practices that result in both physical and mental harm to ASU faculty members, which they then apparently exploit for fundraising, social media clicks and financial gain. As my April 2023 letter to Turning Point USA indicated, the Professor Watchlist has resulted in antisemitic, anti-LGBTQ+ and misogynistic attacks on ASU faculty with whom Turning Point USA and its followers disagree. Such tactics are anti-democratic, anti-free speech and completely contrary to the spirit of university scholarship, teaching and community.
Finally, please let me note that while Turning Point USA has been featured in and has hosted public events at ASU and the university has supported its right to do so, the same organization is ironically using intimidation, embarrassment and bullying to prevent others from speaking in ways with which it disagrees. This is the Turning Point USA version of its support of “freedom.” Let me assure all of you that ASU will do all that we can to end the bullying and intimidation of our faculty members by Turning Point USA and to reduce threats against the members of the ASU community which arise from such actions.