Free markets club starts at UAHS
by Sophie Yang, ’19
Senior Kate McLaughlin, founder and president of Upper Arlington’s new Turning Point chapter, attended the right-wing student organization’s Turning Point USA High School Leadership Summit from July 23 to 26 before launching the club at UAHS.
McLaughlin said her strong belief in capitalism was part of what motivated her to start the club.
“I don’t like the government’s control in our lives. I think everything should be up to you,” McLaughlin said. “In UA, where there’s a lot of handing down, it’s important for people to realize their parents or grandparents worked for what they got.”
After their first meeting on Sept. 27, McLaughlin and other members of Turning Point hung posters reading “I Heart Capitalism” provided by Turning Point USA. The club, held in room 213 during Thursday office hours, now sees around 15 people each week with new faces common.
So far, McLaughlin said Turning Point has collected canned food for St. Philip Episcopal Church to distribute across Columbus and—as is most common during club meetings—holds open discussions on economic issues.
McLaughlin, who identities as socially conservative and economically libertarian, said these discussions are meant to be a platform to educate students on economy-related politics and current events like Ohio’s Issue 1 ballot initiative.
“Some of us are Libertarians and some are trying to figure out where they stand. It’s not everybody is capitalist, everybody is Republican. It’s about educating—not conforming,” McLaughlin said.
Turning Point, whose membership ranges from complete laissez-faire Libertarians like freshman Noah Freud to moderate Republicans like senior Will Geletka, takes a largely pro-capitalism, pro-free markets stance according to McLaughlin.
Senior Daniel Seely, who regularly attends Turning Point meetings, said he supported free markets.
“It’s how we’ve seen so much initiative and innovation in our country. You have big corporations like Apple and Google that started as one person’s idea and benefit the entire world,” Seely said.
Turning Point’s formation in Upper Arlington has not come without backlash. According to McLaughlin and other club members, Turning Point rehung its posters after they were taken down in early October.
“We don’t know by who, but it was very disappointing,” said member sophomore Isabella Wood.
Wood, who identifies as Republican–Libertarian, said she has seen a stigma around Turning Point.
“I’ve had people in my classes find out I’m in this club. I’ve gotten odd looks,” Wood said. “Saying you’re conservative or you lean conservative has a negative connotation to it, so to have this group of people who share your beliefs and respect you is really nice.”
The launch of Turning Point has also influenced students to create Together We Are United, a liberal-leaning, socially focused group that had been informally dubbed “Socialist Club” before members settled on a name. Together We Are United—which shares an adviser, teacher Betsy Sidor, with Turning Point—held its first meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 30 in room 213, according to founder junior Susan Zunic.
“I felt if there was a conservative, capitalist club, there should be a more leftist club to even out the politics in Upper Arlington,” Zunic said.
Junior Anna Shrader, a member of Together We Are United, said the club did not form as an opposition to Turning Point but rather an alternative.
“I’ve heard rumors that people think we want to tear down Turning Point, or that we hate them and think their views are evil or destroying society. We definitely don’t strongly dislike or want to get them shut down—that’s not American,” Shrader said.
According to Zunic and Shrader, Together We Are United currently has 6 to 12 members and is looking into field trips, service projects and a future debate with Turning Point over economic issues, touching on education, healthcare and similar topics—something both groups said they are looking forward to.
“I’m really excited,” Seely said. “When you have two groups as diverse as Turning Point and Together We Are United, it’ll be really interesting seeing that diverse exchange of ideas.”