Waking up this morning I instantly knew what day it was: September 2nd, 2016, the date of the activities fair at Washington University. This is the day most clubs get 90% of their recruitment done. It had arrived.
In all honesty I had been waiting for this day for over a year. As I was walking around the activities fair last year, I met Jeffrey, a student who told me he identified as libertarian. I was yet to meet another libertarian on campus, and was excited at the prospect that other students shared my views. At the time I was involved with College Republicans, however they slowly starting to alienate me. Since my politics lean in a more liberty-oriented direction, I was itching to start a YAL chapter on campus, where students like me could talk about and promote liberty minded issues outside the scope of the two party system. Meeting Jeffrey kicked off a year long mission to start that chapter. This includes receiving university recognition so we'd be able to table on campus and participate in the activities fair. The recognition process wasn't easy, and the endless university bureaucracy certainly tried to block us at every turn. From requiring us to submit our application multiple times, to broken communication, the administrators did not make it easy.
But here we were, a year later, registered as an official student group on campus, and tabling at the activities fair. There was certainly a sense of accomplishment among our group as we stood there, anxiously anticipating the moment when students would flood the field, eagerly looking for clubs to join. We didn't really know what to expect either. With College Republicans and College Democrats right next door, would anybody be interested in a political group not associated with either major party?
The next hour went down better than we could have possible imagined. Aside from the howling wind, seemingly committed to knocking our poster board down, our recruitment at activities fair went off without a hitch. So many students approached us, all five of our executive members running the booth were occupied with potential members the entire duration of the involvement fair. There were alienated conservatives who were looking for a new home talking to us. We also had liberals that were interested in ending the wars and promoting personal liberty who were interested in YAL. And of course, dedicated libertarians, eager to sign up for a group that promotes their values. In total, I was shocked to see we had a whopping 77 students sign up for our email list, many more than any of us could have possibly imagined.
With one of the presidential debates being held at Washington University, US politics has become a central point of conversation this semester. I'm looking forward to YAL shaping that conversation, and leaving an impact on Washington University students for years to come.