On April 18th, American University’s YAL chapter held its closing speaker for the semester, the sharp and dedicated libertarian intellectual, the Cato institute Executive Vice President David Boaz! As the semester started to close with finals near, our YAL chapter made every effort to bring as many of our liberty-minded students as possible. We surpassed all expectations. Over forty students came to the event! Packing the room full of attentive listeners! For many, this was their first event, deciding to attend when they heard such a high-level libertarian intellectual was coming to speak.
The event itself started with little show, the excitement was organic and we only had to have him in the room to gather the audience’s interest. Our DC state chair, Annamarie Rienzi, grabbed the audience's attention, thanking everyone for attending and encouraging newcomers to sign up so they can know of future events. She then directed the audience's attention to our Outreach coordinator Renee Ermer. Renee provided a sincere introduction for Mr. Boaz, going through his credentials and accomplishments. By the time Mr. Boaz was ready to speak, new members who had previously knew very little on libertarianism, were intrigued and ready to hear what David Boaz had to say.
The event, “Reclaiming Freedom,” was an introductory course on the principles of freedom, and the role it had in the foundation of our country. He discussed his own journey from a traditional conservative into a libertarian as he realized he valued freedom over order. Mr. Boaz discussed the various philosophical positions he holds, made an effort to distinguish libertarianism from either political party or the mainstream liberalism vs conservatism beliefs. He urged the young students to err on the side of freedom, and to value and argue the empowering aspects of libertarianism as opposed to getting bogged down by nuance.
After the speech, we opened the floor to questions and nearly a third of the group had their hands up. The questions ranged from asking for the libertarian position on various issues, to asking for clarification on specific points, or to broad concerns about the libertarian movement in general. As an introduction to libertarianism as well as an opportunity for long-time libertarians to discuss more specific concerns. After an extended round of questions, we concluded the event with a round of applause and a group photo, one with the executive board and the other with the whole group. We thanked the regular attendees and the newcomers, and encouraged them to be ready for a new round of speakers and events in the fall!