UF Student Body President Smith Meyers has denied being involved with a conservative nonprofit after his photo appeared in one of the organization’s brochures.
An article from The Chronicle in May 2017 described Turning Point USA as a conservative group that tries to influence Student Government elections at colleges and universities nationwide. The article reported the organization was offering to pay for the campaigns of conservative students running to help them get into higher leadership positions as part of Turning Point USA’s Campus Victory Project. The Chronicle reported that the group has funded candidates at UF but did not say which ones.
Meyers, who has served as the Student Body president since April 2017, wrote in email April 10 that the group took a photo of him from social media without his permission. He said this has happened to other Student Body presidents across the country.
Smith said he does not have a relationship with the organization.
“Student Government is a non-partisan platform with members from every side of the aisle,” he said in the statement. “I am proud of the work we have accomplished this year, and I believe our work reflects a commitment to working with students across the political spectrum.”
Meyers declined to comment further.
The Alligator tried to contact the national branch of Turning Point USA multiple times. Nobody responded to the requests for comment.
SG adviser James Tyger, whose role is to advise, collaborate and train members of Student Government, did not return any of The Alligator’s multiple requests for comment.
According to the brochure on The Chronicle’s story, Turning Point USA has successfully elected 54 Student Body presidents. SG races in Florida funded by Turning Point are estimated to cost about $2,206,000, according to The Chronicle.
The pamphlet said the group recruits students in Greek and residential life. Meyers is a former chapter president of the fraternity Alpha Tau Omega.
“Turning Point USA has embarked on making the largest strategic impact for taking back and fighting the entrenched institution that has hijacked billions of public dollars to promote anti-capitalist, anti-American, anti-Semitic and pro-globalist themes,” the pamphlet said.
Alia DeLong, a UF interdisciplinary ecology doctoral student, said she was disappointed to see Meyers’s photo on the brochure. She said she wished he would’ve taken a stronger stance against the organization in his response.
“I think that’s a pretty weak response because the organization’s views are extreme,” the 29-year-old said. “I just don’t understand why he wouldn’t come out and stand up against those kinds of views because they’re harmful and oppressive views.”