Since YAL at Kent State University launched last August we have been strong advocates of allowing firearms on our campus. While we used the "Your Right, Your Life" activism materials to push our message, we knew we had to go further and push harder to make self-defense a topic everyone on campus was talking about.
Last semester we joined an Ohio gun rights organization as they did an open carry firearms education walk on campus. We did not carry firearms ourselves, due to administration warning of consequences if we did so. Regardless, we carried empty holsters and proudly wore our YAL t-shirts. The event garnered lots of news coverage on and off campus, as the only students protesting for the carry walk, our members were interviewed by many news sources and pictured in many publications.
During the Homecoming parade, we waved the Gadsden flag and a "Come and Take It" flag featuring an AR15 rifle while we walked with our university YAL banner. Everyone's voices were hoarse and tired by the end as we spent the entire parade demanding our rights to self-defense on campus. Support was fairly positive from the community, and we were lucky enough to be placed right in front of the band and athletics department.
In February, in response to Governor John Kasich's signing of Senate Bill 199 (allowing Ohio university's to decide if they would allow concealed carry weapon license holders to carry firearms on campus grounds), we staged a week long empty holster protest. We announced the protest to student media and on social media at the end of the week, and invited all students who disagreed to come discuss this important topic as a public forum. Sadly, the forum was unattended except by campus reporters. We gave extensive interviews, but our opponents did not seem interested in defending their views against ours.
Luckily, YAL at Kent State's drive to defend gun rights on campus is far more passionate than those who oppose us. I look forward to many more activism events where we push the conversation of self-defense to the forefront.