Trevecca students joined thousands to hear president speak

by Bailey Basham and Brooklyn Dance

Michael Perrotti got in line around 11 a.m. He waited, and he waited. He knew it would be another seven hours until the rally for president Donald Trump, but he didn’t mind. He was there to see the president.

“I saw an ad on Facebook about Trump coming to Nashville, and I signed up for tickets the second I saw it. I have been a supporter of Trump from the moment he won the Republican ticket, and I was one of the people who voted to put him into office,” said Perrotti, a senior communications major. “I wanted to attend this rally to not only show my support of Trump, but [also because] I have always wanted to go see a president talk while they were currently serving in office. I had yet to do that until yesterday. It was something I crossed off my bucket list for sure.”

Perrotti was one of many Trevecca students to join the thousands in downtown Nashville yesterday for president Trump’s rally. Lines began forming more than 12 hours before the president took the stage, despite the cool winter temperatures.

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“While we were in line a guy came up to us to cut in the line with us. He gave us $200 to stand in line with us, no questions asked,” said Perrotti. “It showed us just how dedicated many of these people were to get into these doors to see our President.”

One of those dedicated people was Randol Graves, a freshman at Trevecca. Graves has been a supporter of president Trump from the beginning and knew that he would not miss an opportunity to see Trump speak. Graves went with eight other Trevecca students, and they arrived at 2 p.m.

He said he has always been very open about his political beliefs, and it has ended a few friendships.  Even so, it hasn’t made Graves any less passionate about his support of Trump.

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Graves posing with a cardboard cut out of Trump

“Whether or not you like him or support him, he is the President of the United States. People can protest. They have freedom of speech, but them protesting or arguing or starting fights isn’t going to do anything–it’s just dividing the country more, said Graves. “People who don’t support Trump are mostly liberals. Most of them but not all, they want equal respect. Liberals want respect for their freedom of speech and beliefs, but they aren’t showing us the same respect as we are showing them.”

For Perrotti, one of the most important things about attending the rally was to get to hear of the administration’s plans for the country directly from president Trump.

“I supported him because I stood for many things that he is going to change within our country. I was excited to hear him discuss the health care reform he is planning. I did not agree with Obamacare and was affected by it at work as insurance rates rose and coverage declined. I was also excited to hear him speak about his executive order banning immigration from many countries in order to keep our country safe. I think he is going to do many great things for our country and just having the opportunity to hear him firsthand, rather than hearing his speech from a secondhand reporter or left wing media reporter, is something that I was looking forward to the most [going in],” said Perrotti.

Junior Christian Lohr was unable to attend the rally, but his support for president Trump did not waver. Lohr said that from his perspective, things are looking better and more collaborative.

“I am glad that people on both sides of the aisle are beginning to understand the importance of working together to solve the issues facing our country. Obviously, there are extremes on both sides who will always disagree. I have been glad to see Donald Trump’s willingness to reach out to those who opposed him or share different viewpoints [than his]. I [knew there would] be protests and [because] they were peaceful, I respected those people even if I may disagree with what they stand for,” said Lohr. “I think that the next four years are going to be instrumental to the U.S. and the world, and I pray for God to give those in the government the ability to make wise decisions and trust in him. Regardless of political standing the President deserves respect.”

Hannah Higginbotham, sophomore double major in biology and chemistry, has followed Trump throughout his election and attended the rally. She said she was hoping Trump would touch on key issues and did not leave disappointed.

“He’s the president. To hear him speak was historic. I was looking forward to him addressing healthcare and the immigration issues, which he did. Hearing from the media and hearing from him in person were two very different things, and I am glad I got to experience that. I am proud of the country I live in and I am proud to see a president who is in office, fighting for the voices of Americans,” she said.

Todd Jones, junior physics major, also attended last night’s rally. Jones grew up in Washington D.C. and attended one of the inauguration ceremonies for George W. Bush.

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Jones with friend and younger brother inside the autitorium

“I wanted to attend this rally because it felt like it would be more personable and directed at Tennesseans. I was looking forward to just be close to president Trump knowing he is one of the most powerful persons in the world,” said Jones. “I felt like what Trump campaigned for was going to make a difference and change the course the country was headed in the previous administration. I think president Trump spoke very well, was clear on what he needed to say to get the point across, but also created excitement with what else is left to come. It helped me know that what I voted for is the president I’m getting.”

Jeffrey Wells, associate professor of communications studies, offered 80 points extra credit to the students in his social influence class after they proposed the idea. Wells said the student learning outcomes for the course are to articulate the role of freedom of speech in an open society, construct and analyze persuasive messages and to articulate theories and understandings of persuasion and influence—all things that would be demonstrated at president Trump’s rally.

“I would offer extra credit for any large political rally because they are usually full of persuasive message, and the course social influence is basically a course in persuasion. Part of the reason this rally is important is that it is timely and local. It really is a great opportunity.  Trump usually provides many messages prime for analysis,” said Wells. “If students are excited enough to make the effort to go off campus to an event of this sort that will provide them with exposure to persuasion techniques, concepts and theories, the learning is often greater than what we can do in class. I offered so much extra credit so that they would truly consider this as an option.”

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Perrotti inside the venue sporting his Trump-Pence gear. Photo by Perotti.

For Perrotti, however, going to the rally was the only option from the beginning.

“Walking away from this rally, I am able to reflect on a moment that I will forever remember. I was able to hear the president of the United States speak in the city I love. I am excited to see what promises Trump will continue to fulfill as he serves in office, and I do believe Donald J. Trump will make America great again,” said Perrotti.

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