Students launch conservative Turning Point club at Park City High School
Max Mobley has never been afraid of voicing his conservative opinions, no matter how much they made him stand out in a primarily left-leaning community. He assumed few other students in Park City High School agreed with his political beliefs, so he was astonished when his peers lined up to join a conservative club he helped start.
Mobley, a senior at PCHS, and fellow senior Luke Seaver launched a chapter of the national organization Turning Point USA this school year. The club aims to spread conservative ideas of limited government and capitalism to students at the school during its weekly meetings and speaking events. There are about 65 members in the club.
Seaver was inspired to start the club after he attended a Turning Point event last summer, and he and Mobley decided to give it a shot. Mobley said they were unsure if the club would be approved by school administrators or if any students would join.
But, they got the go-ahead from the school and set up a table during a club recruitment day at the beginning of the school year. Mobley said about 40 students signed up.
Conservative students started coming to the club meetings, where members discuss current events and people’s different views of them. Then, moderate and liberal students started to show up to listen to conservative students and voice their opinions.
Mobley said it is good for the club members to hear varying views, because it allows everyone to listen to different perspectives.
He said his views and opinions have changed about some topics after in-depth discussions, and he knows those of other club members have changed as well.
“We’re trying to impact each other’s thoughts on these current events, and hopefully give people new perspectives so that maybe they can reconsider their own political beliefs,” he said.
The end goal of the club is still to spread conservative ideas, Mobley said, but the PCHS chapter is less about pushing one mindset and more about promoting acceptance and inclusion.
“There is nobody that should feel like they don’t belong in our meetings,” Mobley said.
The club discusses highly debated political issues, such as gun control, abortions and border security. The conversations can get intense, but club members are generally respectful of each other’s beliefs, said Ryan Zink, who is set to be next year’s president of the Turning Point Club.
“I think what’s great about our club is that we can all eventually come up with a resolution. We won’t end friendships in the end,” he said.
Zink said the club has been a great way for him to find peers who share his political views. Prior to joining the club, he said he worried that if his classmates knew he was conservative, he might be “shunned.”
“Personally, I don’t know if I could have announced my conservatism to the rest of my school without Turning Point,” he said.
Now, Zink said he has dozens of students who would back him up if he ever got in a political debate. When there are political events or rallies taking place, he has a group of students he can go with. He said he used to feel like an outcast, but he now feels free to vocalize his opinions.
Mobley said it is important for students to talk about politics and be engaged, and he believes the club provides a forum for students to respectfully have those discussions.
“Having those discussions helps bridge the divide and helps people come together and realize, ‘Well, maybe these people aren’t as crazy as I thought they were,’” he said. “A large majority of us want the same things, we just see different ways of going about them.”
Mobley said there has been some pushback from students who are opposed to the messages the club spreads. On April 1, the club was set to host its first speaking event at the high school, but the club had to move it to Ecker Hill Middle School after another student released bear spray in the lecture hall. Mobley and Zink said they felt targeted by the incident, though officials have not detailed the student’s motive.
For the most part, the club seems to have been a success in its first year, Mobley said. Zink said he is eager to continue the club next year and host more events. He wants to maintain a club that respects students’ opinions and shows people what conservatives really believe.
Students who are interested in joining the club can attend the weekly meetings after school on Monday in Eric Janes’ room. They can also message the club through Instagram at @turningpointpchs.
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A Trailside resident, and Snyderville Basin Planning Commission member, launched a write-in campaign for the Park City Board of Education hoping to “get the trust of the community back.”