For Constitution Day this fall, Lamar University YAL had its first recruitment activity of the year! With help from Jace Holyoak, a Leadership Institute field representative, our fledgling chapter set up a table outside of the Setzer Student Center early that morning in order to hand out miniature U.S. Constitutions and bring awareness to the Liberty movement on campus.
However, we had a couple hiccups along the way. Because our YAL chapter does not have the campus-mandated five members in order to achieve official recognition, we were unable to reserve space to table—quite a barrier to new organizations on campus. Due to this rule, Setzer Center administrators confronted us before we even finished setting up and said we would have to leave, despite Lamar's status as a public university and the importance of handing out copies of the Constitution specifically for Constitution Day.
They informed us that we would have to use the “Free Speech Area” several yards from the student center, that it would have to be cleared ahead of time, and that a previously-scheduled event in that location meant that we would have to come back tomorrow. Jace even asked, “So no free speech today?” and the administrator confirmed, “No free speech today.”
Luckily, I was able to give her my contact information, and she said that she would attempt to get in touch with her boss in order to determine if we could be excepted from the reservation requirement this time.
A few minutes later, she came back to inform us that while she had been unable to contact her superiors, she had decided that the relevance of our goal—handing out Constitutions—to that specific date was good enough to let us to use a location outside of the “Free Speech Area” for the day. On that note, we finished setting up our table and started giving out Constitutions to dozens of interested people passing by. Within only a few hours, we had given out over 100 copies and had even more sign-ups!
This certainly looks to be a big first year for Lamar University YAL, and we have both meetings and activism events planned in the coming months. Maybe we can do something about those pesky Free Speech Zones!