National Forensic Association pulls 2016 competition from Ball State over RFRA



The National Forensic Association joined the ranks of other companies like Angie's List, Salesforce and Gen Con LLC who have decided to pull business or events from Indiana after Gov. Mike Pence signed Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 

The NFA, a debate organization, pulled their 2016 national competition from Ball State. 

Mary Moore, director of individual events and instructor of communication studies, said the National Council came to the agreement to open the bidding back up to other institutions for the 2016 competition.

“We feel compelled to protect students, so to ask colleagues to bring students into a state where this law would allow businesses to discriminate against them was something the National Council did not feel comfortable doing,” Moore said.

Ball State is one of the organization's founding members and is one of the 10 schools that have won the national tournament, so Moore said it was prestigious to be able to host the national tournament on campus.

The city could lose between $1 and 2 million for not hosting the five-day tournament, Moore said. The tournament brings about 1,200 to 1,500 students and coaches from about 100 institutions from across the country to Muncie. Losing the food and lodging business from them could make a big impact, she said.

“It has a huge economic impact on a community that could really use those funds,” Moore said. “Additionally, we lose the visibility the tournament would bring to the university.”

Pence spoke at a press conference Tuesday and said he wants to make new legislation with RFRA by the end of the week to clarify that the law does not allow discrimination.

Pence has been meeting with lawmakers and legislators for the past week to address concerns with the law, the Associated Press reported.

“[I] can appreciate that that's become the perception, not just here in Indiana but all across the country,” Pence said, according to the AP. “We need to confront that.”

Moore said if Pence fixes the law, there is a chance the tournament could still take place at Ball State. However, she said that wasn’t a definite.

“I am not sure exactly how the community at large feels about what happened and how willing, even if they do fix it, if they still would rather not come symbolically because of the action,” Moore said. 

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