TU Turning Point leader confirms authenticity of leaked messages
By: Caitlyn Freeman, Editor in Chief and Jake Shindel, Senior Editor
A student spokesperson for the Towson University chapter of Turning Point USA acknowledged that disparaging comments he made in the clubs group chat were authentic, according to screenshots of GroupMe messages The Towerlight received Wednesday.
As previously reported by The Towerlight, screenshots posted to Instagram that reportedly showed members of TU’s chapter of Turning Point USA using homophobic slurs and admitting to using racial slurs circulated the campus Tuesday night.
The Towerlight obtained the messages published by the chapters spokesperson, junior Tim Yalinkilincer, to a class GroupMe chat on Wednesday. The Towerlight is not identifying the source of the messages because of them being a classmate of Yalinkilincer’s.
In the GroupMe, Yalinkilincer confirmed the validity of the messages attributed to him from the chapters group chat and apologized for his comments, which he said were taken out of context.
“I am strongly against any sort of hate towards an individual, regardless of ideology, background, race, or anything else,” Yalinkilincer wrote. “Those who know me, know that.”
The Towerlight reached out to Yalinkilincer for comment but did not received a response.
“We have received reports of these alleged incidents,” Patricia Bradley, vice president for Inclusion and Institutional Equity, said in a statement Wednesday. “The Office of Inclusion and Institutional Equity is reviewing those reports to determine if they are in violation of policy. We encourage our campus community to continue to report such incidents.”
In the class GroupMe, Yalinkilincer said he could only speak for himself and not the chapter as a whole, insinuating the validity of the leaked messages allegedly sent by other members. However, The Towerlight was unable to confirm the veracity of messages allegedly sent by other members by Wednesday publication.
“I cannot speak on behalf of anyone in that chat or in the club,” Yalinkilincer wrote. “Everyone is responsible for what they say.”
In Tuesday’s messages, Yalinkilincer was seen making disparaging remarks about Baltimore City.
“This is why I won’t live in Baltimore,” Yalinkilincer wrote. “When I was driving through there, it didn’t even look like America. It looked like the middle of fucking Uganda. Even war-torn Ukraine looks nicer than west Baltimore.”
He also made genderphobic and weight shaming comments about a picture of someone sent in the chat.
“She/they/it looks hideous,” Yalinkilincer wrote.
Aside from Yalinkilincer, another message thread allegedly show a member referring to LGBTQ Pride Month as “f—-” month. Another thread showed a different member calling the monkeypox outbreak the “f—- virus.”
Additionally, several messages show Yalinkilincer, ridiculing those with liberal and socialist political ideologies, calling them communist.
“Every single one of these socialist I’ve run into have been the same,” Yalinkilincer wrote. “They look unwell, they’re rude and nasty, and their faces could’ve honestly been one of those faces in those Antifa mugshots.”
The messages also show members allegedly discussing racial and ableist slurs they use to refer to marginalized groups.
TU’s Turning Point chapter stems from the national organization started in 2012 by right-wing commentator Charlie Kirk. The group has face heavy controversy since its establishment, as Kirk and the college chapters often push misinformation about the 2020 Presidential Election and the COVID-19 vaccine, according to an article from the Guardian.
The TU chapter of Turning Point recently came under fire after hosting hosted Gordana Schifanelli, Maryland’s Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, and Michael Peroutka, the Republican nominee for attorney general, to lead a conversation about the U.S. Constitution on Monday.
The event and chapter were met with heavy controversy online, and many TU students denounced Peroutka’s past association with the League of the South. As a result, approximately 60 people stood outside of West Village Commons protesting during the event, The Towerlight reported.
While the TU chapter is a Student Government Association-affiliated group, they do not currently receive funding as they have yet to reach benchmarks laid out in the Tiger Stripes program. However, according to SGA documents, the organization was last eligible to receive funding during the fall 2020 semester.
“It’s disheartening to witness this on our campus, but it reinvigorates our passion, drive, and determination to rid our campus of imperiling mindsets and behaviors,” the SGA said in a statement on Wednesday.
SGA President Jordan Colquitt said the organization cannot comment on the allegations against the chapter until the OIIE conclude their investigations.
Further, he said the SGA will be relaunching their #NotAtTU campaign on Thursday, aimed at providing students with the resources and knowledge on how to report hate speech through social media campaigns, flyers and tabling events.
“The rhetoric shown in the Turning Point USA group chat represents the worst of our campus,” TU’s the Towson College Democrats said in a statement. “It is disappointing, but unsurprising, that this much hate has been able to gather in this group. This kind of rhetoric leads to Racist, Anti-Semitic, and Homophobic violence across the world.”
TU’s Young Democratic Socialist of America chapter, who led the protest against Peroutka, released a statement late Thursday condemning the chapter and calling for the University to take action.
“There is absolutely no context in which the hateful statements stated in the TPUSA group chat are acceptable,” the statement reads. “Given that we, the Towson YDSA chapter, have obtained the raw, unedited, screenshots provided by the three students that obtained them, it is evident that these statements were made in hate. Such bigoted statements have been shared repeatedly and frequently throughout their chat over the span of months. By examining the timestamps of messages in the screenshots, it is clear where some conversations start, and therefore, no prior messages to provide “context” for their vile speech.”
The Towson College Republicans did not respond to request to comment by publication. The TU Queer Student Union also did not respond to request for comment.
Editors note: Towson University sent a corrected statement from Bradley late Wednesday. The originally published statement from Bradley included the line: “We encourage our campus community to continue to report such incidents and we will to continue to let our community know that even protected speech can be harmful.”