The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

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Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

Brandon Tatum speaks at Pitt TPUSA event

Brandon+Tatum+speaks+during+his+event+%E2%80%9CCall+Me+American%E2%80%9D+hosted+by+Turning+Point+USA+in+O%E2%80%99Hara+Student+Center+on+Thursday+night.
Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor
Brandon Tatum speaks during his event “Call Me American” hosted by Turning Point USA in O’Hara Student Center on Thursday night.

About 50 Pitt students and community members gathered in the O’Hara Ballroom to hear a presentation from conservative political commentator and radio personality Brandon Tatum.

Pitt’s chapter of Turning Point USA, a politically conservative organization, hosted Tatum as their first speaker of the semester for an event titled, “Call Me American.” An hour before the event, the organization Trans Action Building PGH held a protest in response to the Turning Point event. 

Tatum’s presentation primarily centered on his personal journey as a conservative Black man and his experiences as a police officer.

“People may believe I would never be a police officer, and that there’s no room for a Black man to be in the police department, and I’m here to tell you today that that’s the furthest thing from the truth,” Tatum said. 

According to a flyer, the protest outside the building was in response to “Pitt administration’s failure to protect the safety of the trans community.” Trans Action Building’s demands include three fully staffed, in-person resource centers for the LGBTQ+ community, trans-inclusive health care and housing, an end to union-busting, a $20/hour minimum wage and more supportive mental health services. 

“We’ve asked for resource centers,” Farah Mili, a junior student who attended the protest, said. “We’ve asked for the bare minimum.”

The protestors were seen trying to enter the event with tickets and student IDs, but got turned away at the door for unclear reasons.

Austin Lane, a member of Pitt’s chapter of Turning Point USA, later stated that Mili in particular was denied entry because she did not have a valid ticket or guest pass.

Tatum emphasized the importance of open-mindedness in his speech, saying he embraced conversations with people who have different political opinions than his own.

Junior student activist Farah Mili shows her student ID to try to get into the Brandon Tatum event. She was not allowed in for unclear reasons. (Amaya Lobato Rivas | Assistant Visual )

“At the end of the day, we want to see this country well, and we may have a difference of opinion on how that is accomplished,” Tatum said. “I’m gonna give my side and it’s okay to disagree.”

During the Q&A section, an audience member asked Tatum if he could speak about his perspective as a Black conservative on the issue of race and how to bring more unity and friendship between different racial and cultural communities. 

“As conservatives, we can try not to be as hyperbolic in certain situations,” Tatum said. “Make sure you’re telling the truth. If you see a Black person or whatever, treat them like you want to be treated [and] vice versa.”

Another audience member asked Tatum to comment on the protestors outside the building, despite the fact that Tatum’s speech primarily focused on his life experiences. Tatum responded that although he doesn’t agree with those who identify as gay or trans because of his religion, he doesn’t want to interfere with other people’s lives. 

“I really believe that you can do whatever you want to do, but don’t do it to the kids,” Tatum said.

Mili said she and the protesters are disappointed with the lack of support the University has offered its LGBTQ+ population, especially after last year’s controversial speakers

“It is especially depressing when you look at the spending, and they’re building new buildings and new sports centers,” Mili said. “Okay — now we have students who are asking for help, and they’re [saying] ‘we can’t afford it.’”

Editor’s Note: This article was updated with a statement from Austin Lane clarifying why Farah Mili was denied entry to the event.

About the Contributor
Abby Lipold, Assistant News Editor
Abby Lipold is the Assistant News Editor for the News Desk. She is an English Nonfiction Writing major and is pursuing a BPhil in International and Area Studies. She has been writing for The Pitt News since January 2022. You can contact Abby at [email protected].