MISSOULA – Tabling is a pretty normal occurrence at the Univeristy of Montana student center. It involves students informing the general public of a cause or organization they are in support of.
For Taylor Powell, a disagreement with a UM professor made her tabling experience for Turning Point USA a little out of the ordinary.
“She came back the following week and asked how I liked her students that she had sent to my table,” Powell said. “I had to start thinking back to who these students were because I didn’t really think of it at the time and they all had similar loaded questions, and I have no problem with students coming up to me with, whether they are pre-rehearsed questions but it was just the act of a professor weaponizing her students to then push her own agenda thats where I really saw the biggest discrepancy with the situation.”
The story made its way to the White House which earned Powell an invite to an executive order signing that is meant to protect free speech rights on campus.
“So at first I thought it was a joke, I mean, the White House doesn’t just email people you know just casually,” Powell added.
On her first trip to DC Powell even got to see the document that got her to the nation’s capital.
“Looking at the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment and thinking that this is why I’m here. I was invited here because of this and it was just, I was frozen in that moment just staring at the First Amendment, it was so cool,” Powell said.
Now Powell says she’s going back to class with the hope that UM is conscious about protecting all students’ first amendment rights.
“Universities do need to hold themselves accountable and the students as well will be holding the whole entire university accountable, and so I am really hoping it strikes more with students that this is our university. The First Amendment applies to me. Free Speech applies to me,” Powell said.
Students from a number of universities were on hand at the White House event to talk about what they described as experiences with censorship on college campuses.
Powell says that there was a bond between all of the students and hopes to stay in touch with them.