The University of Iowa’s Young Americans for Liberty chapter has been busy promoting liberty throughout our campus and community this semester by initiating and participating in recruitment, activism, and events.
In February, our chapter had the privilege of attending the International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington D.C. SFL organized a multitude of buses, one of which started in Iowa City, so Iowa was able to capitalize on that and bring over 35 people. It was the very first liberty conference for many of our members, and they found the weekend to be very beneficial.
Not only were they able to meet a lot of amazing liberty-minded people and see some of their heroes within the movement, but they were also able to receive crucial activism training that provided them with the tools to communicate and promote their ideas effectively for the cause of liberty.
After getting fired up at ISFLC, our chapter came back to the snowy tundras of Iowa and began planning a Free Speech Wall to bring attention to the unconstitutional speech codes at the University of Iowa.
Currently, in order to practice free speech on campus, one must apply for a permit through the University’s administration. As if this weren't bad enough, one can only apply for the permit if the student is part of a recognized student organization with at least five members; essentially meaning that as a student at the University of Iowa, you do not have individual rights to free speech while on campus.
We found this to be very problematic and decided to construct two large walls and plenty of signs to protest these speech codes. Our signs had sayings like “Check Yourself Before You Express Yourself” and “Careful: Entering Restricted Speech Zone”.
The demonstration garnered a lot of attention and support from students, faculty members, and from members of the community as well. The police were eventually called, and came to speak to us regarding our intentions. We made it clear to the police officers that we were there without a permit (unless you count the First Amendment, which we did of course), and that our intentions were to express our constitutional right to be there without permission from the university.
One of the police officers made a phone call to the Vice President of Student Life to relay our intentions and inquire if the demonstration should be disbanded. Because we were not being disruptive, we were allowed to stay, but were asked to fill out the necessary paperwork and get a permit for next time.
Despite the police showing up, the event was still a huge success, and earned a lot of media from local press. We were able to utilize this protest by handing out fliers to promote Iowa’s first YAL State Convention, recruit more members for our chapter, and ultimately bring awareness to a very serious issue.
On March 7, the University of Iowa had the pleasure of hosting the first Young Americans for Liberty State Convention in Iowa. The convention consisted of two parts, the morning included campaign training, while the afternoon focused on recruitment and activism training, and also included riveting speeches by Congressman Rod Blum and Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks.
The convention had almost 200 attendees from 8 different states, with some students traveling up to 11 hours just to attend. We were so thankful to have had the opportunity to host some of the Midwest’s best activists, and hope to be considered once again for future YAL State Conventions.
We would like to personally thank everyone who made the convention possible including: Ed King, Ty Hicks, Anthony Rodriguez, Billy Grant, Ethan Robinett, Thomas Radke, Lydia Schwertfeger, Matt Berra, Hassan Sheikh, Justine LaViolette, and all of those who spent their Saturday with us to promote the ideas of liberty.