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Beach ball serves as conversation starter for free speech

The Turning Point USA club on campus hosted an event Jan. 27 to promote the importance of free speech.

Members of the club bounced an 8-foot beach ball around in front of McWhorter Hall and asked students to write whatever they wanted on the ball to exercise their right to free speech.

Before the event, Turning Point USA President Hannah Brunson was excited to see students start conversations about how they chose to express themselves on the ball.

“Our goal is, if you write something that some people might find offensive, stick around and have that conversation with them,” said Brunson. “It’s open to whatever you want to make it.”

One misconception some students had about the event was it was planned in response to Belmont’s new policy about window decorations. Brunson, however, made it clear the timing of the event was merely coincidence.

“A lot of people are thinking it’s connected to the window thing — it’s not, we already had it planned,” she said.

On the day of the event, students wrote a mixture of both silly inside jokes and sincere political and social opinions. Statements like “Meat is Murder” and “Black lives and all lives matter” appeared next to “I’m just here for the memes.”

Freshman club member Frank Pendowski loved seeing the wide variety of things written on the ball.

“It was nice to see that people were saying what they wanted, and it wasn’t geared to a certain political opinion,” he said.

Caroline Baugher, a freshman, expressed her enthusiasm for the diversity represented at the event.

“There were so many people from different backgrounds and different viewpoints,” Baugher gushed.

Two statements stood out to Baugher, one that said “Repeal Obamacare” and another that said “Save Obamacare.” Seeing two opposing viewpoints next to each other showed the heart of the free speech ball — to express opinions without fear of backlash.

Overall, the members of the Turning Point USA club were happy to see their event sparked conversation between students and reminded them of their right to free speech.

This article was written by Emily Allen.

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