Bret Pinson and three of his classmates completed a business management assignment Monday night that received a bit more media attention than most class projects.
Pinson’s group chose to organize a tea party event at the center of campus.
“We thought we could educate students about a lot of issues that are really important,” Pinson said. “We hadn’t done this before. We had no idea if were going to run out of pizza or drinks first.”
The Faculty Handbook prohibits employees from “providing university resources to support or oppose a political candidate, campaign, party, action committee or group,” but because students organized the event, they were in the clear. To maintain the university’s status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, however, the students had to ensure no direct endorsements were made.
“I talked a lot to the legal department of Student Life,” Pinson said. “They wanted to make sure our signs and our speakers especially weren’t going to mention candidates and officials, and I think we did a pretty good job.”
Dozens of students, many of them attracted by free pizza, listened to several speakers, including Aaron Escobedo, president of the ACU Young Republicans.
“No matter what you believe, no matter what it is, speak up and voice your beliefs. No one is going to do it for you,” said Escobedo, junior history education major from Lamesa. “And don’t worry about what people will say. I’d rather sit, drink tea and be called names than drink the Kool-Aid that has put so many of us to sleep.”
Mary Koss, who spoke at the April 15 tea party rally at the downtown post office, also spoke to Monday night’s crowd, which included members of the Abilene Tea Party Coalition.
Chuck Zollars, ATPC member, said Pinson attended the coalition’s first meeting April 19.
“We were certainly hopeful there would be some students, but he came and just made an announcement that there was going to be an event here,” Zollars said. “We were very pleased, and we certainly applaud them.”