By Jeremiah Vaille
Before Spring Break, Turning Point USA hosted an event on campus that sparked a protest outside of Marquez Hall. One Wednesday March 16th, Morgan Zegers, a conservative political personality and founder of Young Americans Against Socialism, spoke to students from Colorado School of Mines, the University of Colorado, and other schools in the region. Zegers hosts a podcast and has a large Instagram and Twitter following. TPUSA for the Rockies Territory hosted the event on the Mines campus and claimed there were “50 protestors and 100 attendees.”
Individuals who went to protest heard of the event in the days leading up to Zegers’ speech. The day before the event, word about a group protest was being spread through Snapchat and Instagram. A poster for the protest read “Mines people: A transphobic speaker is coming to an event this Wednesday at 7pm in Marquez. Come join us and show that Mines is a home for love and support, not transphobia.” By Wednesday, 90 Mines students joined a group chat to organize the protest.
The protesters arrived for the 7pm event starting at 5:30 with markers and posters, transgender pride flag cookies, other snacks, U.S. flags, transgender pride flags, and other pride flags. The protesting students made an assortment of colorful signs that read “Love Thy Neighbor,” “Y’all means All,” “Trans rights are human rights,” and more. Protesters posted posters at the entrances to the building stating, “Human rights don’t end where your feelings begin” as a spin on the speech title, “My rights don’t end where your feelings begin.”
As Mines students passed Marquez during the cold and rainy evening, they heard a cheerful chant of “trans rights are human rights.” As rain turned to snow, the group of 60+ Mines students continued to chant and protest as students and adults from around the region arrived to watch the speech.
The protesters were there for a few different reasons. First, when members of the LGBTQ+ community learned that Zegers was speaking and researched her, they found transphobic tweets, retweets, and podcasts, so they wanted to ask Mines to not give harmful speakers a platform on campus. One sign read “Hi, please don’t platform transphobes. Thanks!” Other Mines students went to share love for their transgender peers. Some felt that the protest was just a mini pride event to share support for transgender people and the entire LGBTQ+ community.
Since the event, Zegers has published a podcast and an article on the TPUSA website with her perspective of what happened. Protesters are currently in the process of meeting with other organizations and campus administration to ensure that Mines learns more about the speakers who are coming to campus before approving their events.