UNM students express freedom of speech on giant beach ball

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Words were flowing on the University of New Mexico campus Wednesday afternoon.

Students were given the opportunity to write whatever they wanted on a huge beach ball in the center of campus.

The group behind it, Young Americans for Liberty, said their goal was for students to take advantage of their rights and get the conversation going.

“Go ahead and write whatever you like on the free speech ball,” Andres Del Aguila, UNM student, said.

UNM student Shaya Golafshani decided to share a positive message Wednesday.

“Hello gorgeous world,” she wrote, adding she sees too much negativity around her.

“I just love to see people smile and so when you tell someone they’re gorgeous, they smile so I just think that’s awesome,” Golafshani said.

She is just one of dozens of UNM students who wrote on a giant beach ball, exercising their constitutional right.

“This is for their freedom of speech, they can say whatever they want, they have a voice, their voice matters,” Jessamine Cerron, Young Americans for Liberty, said.

The group’s aim is to educate all students, regardless of their political beliefs, about their rights.

“I decided to draw an eye with a heart and art next to it because I’m an art student and I believe that expression through art is pretty amazing,” Ashleigh Ortega said.

Some students used the opportunity to have a little fun.

“I put, ‘make slime, smoke drugs,’ because people need to not take everything so seriously sometimes,” Eli Bartlit, UNM student, said.

Others opted for a more political message.

“I just felt like writing ‘Mexican American’ cause that’s how I feel right now,” J.C. Santistevan, UNM student, said.

The group organizing the event says they’ve seen examples of censorship on college campuses lately, citing the Milo Yiannopoulos event at UNM last month.

The event featuring the conservative speaker sparked protests and controversy on campus.

“We’re against all forms of censorship whether it be from the government or from fellow citizens,” explained Del Aguila.

Organizers say they want UNM to remain an inviting campus, open to different ideas.

The Young Americans for Liberty have put on the free speech ball event before.

They say it’s a good way to get students to interact with each other on campus about important issues.

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