Tip #1: Get a Ron Paul cutout.
Let’s face it. Any mention or sight of Ron Paul is a libertarian dog whistle. That’s why during tabling, we had multiple images of Ron Paul and a sign asking people if they liked Ron Paul, among other simple, yet eye catching displays. If you’re trying to find other libertarians on campus, this is the way to go. We couldn’t sign them up fast enough before another one came along.
Tip #2: Stand Out
After recruitment tabling, we wanted to do something big to let students know that the liberty movement was alive on campus. It was time for the free speech ball.
It took us a full hour to inflate the ball with a manual pump. There were six of us there so we took turns rotating under the shade of a nearby tree. We got a lot of funny looks as we worked to get the ball full of air, and some interested people came over to find out what on earth we were doing out there with this flaccid pile of rubber.
They wouldn’t have to wait long to find out.
Once we got the ball inflated, we got right to work. It was clear that people were reluctant to be the first ones to participate, but the more people came forward, the easier it was to get the next people to sign. Thousands of students passed by our ball in the hours we were out there- and some teachers as well. An unexpected benefit of doing this event was that event we attracted the attention of a couple of the only libertarian professors on campus, both of which have since agreed to come and speak to our club. We also signed up 70 students- some of which are now members of YAL.
Doing such an eye-catching activism event this early in the semester is a great idea because you have a rare opportunity to reach a vast number of students and let them know that your club exists and what the liberty movement is about. Also, promoting free speech is a great way to introduce people to the ideals of liberty.
Tip #3: Stand Out Again (and Improvise)
The final big event for recruitment was the club fair. We wanted to stand out and doing so wouldn’t be easy. There are 225 clubs at the UNR campus, and this year, everyone brought their “A” game. We planned to show them all up by bringing the free speech ball so that people would recognize us from the day before, but we had a slight problem: someone mistakenly let the air out of the beach ball, and we didn’t know until an hour before the club fair. Remembering that it took an hour to inflate the beach ball, I knew we didn’t have enough time to do it again. I couldn’t let people walk by not knowing that we were the ones behind the Free Speech Ball so I quickly made a simple poster with some pictures of the event and large red text that said “Free Speech Ball”. People noticed. They also noticed that we were handing out “Pot” brownies, A.K.A. store bought brownies in cooking pots.
These two attractions, along our with other displays, were a hit, and did well drawing people to our table. We got 90 sign ups that day.
Overall, early semester recruitment was a huge success. My advise is to not play it safe with the displays- they can do so much of the work for you. Remember that you are part of the display as well. Make sure to have fun and always have a friendly disposition. People are drawn to a good time.