By Leigh Roberts | November 14, 2022
Flyers for the upcoming event can be found posted on campus. Organizers say many of these were removed within days.
Photo Credit: Leigh Roberts
UAlbany’s chapter of the conservative organization Turning Point USA will host controversial “pro-USA” comedian K-von today, Nov. 14. The performance will take place in Campus Center room 375 and is free of charge.
Turning Point USA (TPUSA) is a nonprofit conservative organization geared toward high school and college students. On its website, TPUSA bills itself as a grassroots activism network that gives students the resources they need to promote principles such as limited government and the free market system.
Turning Point USA’s UAlbany chapter has existed since 2018, while the organization itself has existed since 2012. “For Turning Point, our principles are very simple,” said Avery Middendorf, president of the UAlbany chapter of TPUSA. “It’s free speech, pro-Second Amendment, and limited government.”
Meetings will typically revolve around a presentation on one of these principles, followed by an open discussion.
“We’d like to have a diversity of viewpoints there,” Middendorf added.
K-von’s visit was advertised on the club’s Instagram page and flyers were posted around campus, which read, “join us for a night of laughs with pro-USA comedian K-von while supporting Turning Point USA, comedy, and free speech!”
According to Middendorf, the club has faced trouble getting word out about the event. “Basically all the posters we put up on campus have been ripped down already,” Middendorf said, “and it’s only been a couple of days.”
One reason for the hostility may be Turning Point’s reputation as a playground for the alt-right. TPUSA has been the subject of scrutiny by organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which track the activities of hate groups in America. While TPUSA’s mission statement contains no connection to white supremacy, the ADL found that the group frequently attracts white supremecist and alt-right figures at a national level as well as at its branches throughout the country.
The head of TPUSA, Charlie Kirk, has publicly condemned these white supremecist groups, stating, “it’s not who we are, it’s not what we believe, it’s not what Turning Point believes.”
K-von, whose real name is Kevan Moezzi, has also been the subject of controversy. Recently he has been touring college campuses across America in association with TPUSA, and the next stops on his tour include Wichita State, University of Central Oklahoma, and Oakland University in addition to UAlbany. Earlier this year, however, his appearance at SUNY Plattsburgh was canceled by the school’s Student Association due to backlash from students. In emails to the Student Association, the students alleged that K-von’s material is racist and transphobic.
When asked for a comment from TPUSA at UAlbany about these allegations, Middendorf responded, “The comedy show has zero racism or phobia in it at all. That’s merely a thing radical leftist students say to justify their hatred and bullying of other ideas.”
Finding a place to advertise K-von’s performance is not the only thing giving TPUSA at UAlbany trouble when it comes to this event. The venue was changed by the Student Association from Earth Science room 245 to Campus Center room 375 due to alleged concerns that more people than expected would show up after K-von himself advertised the event on Facebook. Middendorf, however, argues that this isn’t the case. At the time of the interview, K-von’s post had only two likes. Now it has five.
K-von’s visit is funded by the national chapter of TPUSA, not by UAlbany’s Student Activity Fee. According to Middendorf, the group had other speakers in mind but K-von was the only one who was able to confirm his availability. Middendorf said he was unfamiliar with K-von’s content, as were the members of TPUSA at UAlbany.
“The members did not know who K-von was until I brought it up to their attention,” Middendorf said. “I know that he’s a comedian and he’s pro-USA. He’s more of a conservative speaker. He’s not afraid to talk about what he thinks is right.”