By Jorge Ventura
The spring semester is always the busiest time at College Of The Canyons with students trying to book last minute appointments with counselors to discuss what classes to take next semester or what college to transfer to.
For other students, it’s finally graduation time, getting ready for the next stage of their lives.
But for Yarden Nagid, the word “busy” is all he knows. Nagid is a 20-year-old sophomore full-time student at COC who is now taking on a whole new challenge that he had no idea he would embark on.
Nagid has decided to start a new club on campus unlike others currently at COC: a Turning Point USA chapter, which is a conservative grassroots student activists organization that promotes values such as limited government, free markets, and lower taxes.
“My high school was very liberal,” Nagid said. “The students, the teachers they were very biased in favoring left wing students and candidates. I quickly learned that supporting someone like Donald Trump on my campus would not be taken lightly.”
This would spark an interest into politics for Nagid while in high school, who noticed that students who leaned conservative would face backlash from students or teachers on campus.
Nagid attended Champs Charter High School in Van Nuys, where he felt he didn’t fit in due to his political views.
“I felt like I was a representative of the conservative movement because kids who liked Trump were afraid to speak out and I wasn’t,” said Nagid.
The 2016 election took place while Nagid was still finishing up his senior year and was just 17 years old and couldn’t cast his vote for Donald Trump like he wanted.
“I remember the day after the election that my government teacher was complaining how dumb how Trump was and how worse off our country will be,” recalls Nagid. “That same teacher humiliated another conservative student and I while in class just because we liked Trump.”
One of the main goals for for TPUSA is to fight back against liberal bias on campuses and give conservative students a platform to promote their values. This is why getting involved in starting a TPUSA chapter once he got to college was very important to Nagid.
“The teacher even told us our votes didn’t count, only if we were old, white and rich,” said Nagid.
The rise of TPUSA started in 2012 and was founded by an 18-year-old with a dream to start a movement for young conservatives. That 18-year-old goes by the name of Charlie Kirk, who convinced a Republican donor by the name of Foster Friess to fund the organization at the Republican National Convention.
Since the start of the non-profit student organization, TPUSA has over 1,000 locations on college campuses and high schools, according to its website. West Ranch High School in Valencia also has a TPUSA chapter on campus with its student Jonathan Cook as president. In California alone, TPUSA has over 60 chapters.
The challenge now for Nagid will be to interest and recruit students to the new chapter and get the word out on the new club on campus.
To recruit new students, Nagid must get out of his own comfortable zone and talk to new people and connect with students that have similar political interests as the club.
He typically sets up a table on campus, usually where there is much in the way of student foot traffic, so that he can hopefully catch the attention of people walking to class and hand them a flyer with big bold words reading, “Big Government Sucks.”
“The reaction and reception at COC has been surprisingly well,” Nagid said. “When we table, people come and talk to us about our ideas and have a civil discourse and don’t shut us down. The only issue we have had was when I was tabling last week, someone came up to our table and yelled, ‘fuck Turning Point.'”
Chapters that table on campus are known to receive harassment or assault from students who disagree with TPUSA in the past.
An activist assaulted a member of TPUSA at UC Berkeley in the month of February when the chapter had set up a table to pass out flyers. The activist, who was not a student at Berkeley, punched TPUSA chapter member Hayden Williams in the face and was arrested by campus police, according to multiple outlets.
“Liberals want us to be the victims and that will not happen… we will continue to fight for our American values no matter what the sacrifice, “ said Charlie Kick in his speech at Young Latino Leadership Summit, an event hosted by TPUSA targeting Hispanic conservatives. Conservative students not only see liberal bias at campus but on mainstream media news channels that cover politics.
“CNN and all the mainstream media outlets keep pushing the narrative that Trump is a racist when the truth is he cares about the border crisis,” said Craig Thompson, a COC freshman that just recently joined the chapter on campus.
Nagid has asked Thompson to help him recruit new members when he sets up his table but Thompson declined the opportunity.
“I asked him to come out and table to recruit members [and] he told me he didn’t want to table because of the backlash he would face and possibly violence,” said Nagid.
Harassment towards conservatives, especially ones wearing any type of “Make America Great Again” clothing on, can expect something like this in the very liberal state of California.
Last month, I went to Cal State LA to report on a speech that Michael Knowles was going to give regarding Trump’s border wall. Outside of the auditorium, a protest against Knowles was taking place, and a Trump supporter by the name of Sergio Velasquez, a student at Cal State LA, was talking to other students.
As I was setting up my camera to do interviews with the protesters, I started to notice a female protester walking towards Velasquez very aggressively. As she approached him, she slapped the MAGA hat off his head and yelled “fuck Donald Trump!”
“I’m a DREAMer too and I hope you know that,” responded Velasquez while scooping up his hat off the ground. “This is the perfect example on how the left thinks it’s okay to assault people who don’t agree with them.”
Velasquez is currently a DACA (Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals) student. His dad entered legally from Guatemala, and his mother brought him and her into the United States illegally.
I edited the story and uploaded it to Facebook and YouTube. In under 24 hours, the video had over 10,000 views and a TPUSA chapter president from UCLA contacted Velasquez about starting his own chapter at Cal State LA to fight back against the liberals who treated him unfairly on campus.
“It was truly an awesome experience [since] TPUSA is giving conservatives the platform to discuss ideas and have an open dialogue with the other side which is something I want to be apart of,” said Velasquez.
However, being Hispanic and conservative on a liberal school has its obstacles.
“Students tell me they first off are unwilling to hear what I have to say so I get called homophobic, racist, race traitor,” said Velasquez. “They never attack my ideas. I would like to talk and debate and have a somewhat dialogue.”
Another way TPUSA helps student voice out against liberal bias on campus by professors is by putting them on a “professor watchlist” on the TPUSA main website.
Once on the site, students across the country could see the names of the professors and which universities they work at.
Dr. Rodolfo Acuna is a Chicano professor that teaches at CSUN who is on the professor watchlist.
“Let’s be honest: many conservatives are not conservatives, but reactionaries who don’t like Mexicans, immigrants or opposing points of view,” said Acuna.
Earlier this month, a viral video hit Twitter with the leader of TPUSA’s UNLV chapter declaring “white power,” among other racist remarks. The video made waves online as it reached up it 5.9 million views on Twitter alone, so TPUSA immediately ruled the president from his role with the organization.
Time will tell if incidents like this will be enough to tarnish the reputation of the student non-profit. Nagid will continue working on building up the chapter at COC and, with the 2020 election around the corner, he already knows whose he will be voting for.
“It’s my first election being able to vote and I’m going with Trump,” said Nagid.