Howdy from Texas A&M! Coming out of a strong recruitment season with significant chapter growth, we sought to increase the scope and notoriety of our chapter to further advance the cause of liberty on our campus. One of the first methods was to provide a way for students to learn more about their First Amendment rights. To do so, we invited Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) attorney Joe Cohn to present on that subject, accompanied by a delicious catered dinner.
Naturally, such an event was meant to spark a discussion on students' rights and encourage passionate activism on campus. Although YAL members would clearly benefit from the lecture, we decided to open the event up to the campus community in an effort to encourage open debate on campus. To paraphrase a quote from author Jonathan Rauch, "How do we even know if our ideas are good or not if they haven't been subject to public discourse?"
Recognizing the Constitutional right to the freedom of expression, great discussions and fiery rhetoric should appear in public discourse without fear of legal reprisals. To that end, the campus community should feel invigorated and empowered to express unpopular and wild opinions on any issue that may arise, which in turn will lead to a greater understanding of a vast number of subjects and ideas.
In preparation for this event, our chapter faithfully tabled several times the week before to recruit students and spread our name. Handing out copies of Students for Liberty's (SFL) collection of essays, Peace, Love, and Liberty, there was significant interest in our table, especially by members of Texas A&M's Corps of Cadets (a program similar to ROTC). Alongside the books, materials from YAL, such as pamphlets about the costs of war and political factoid cards, also caught the eye of passersby.
If that wasn't impressive enough, we constructed a large Free Speech Wall (thanks to a grant from YAL national) to encourage free expression and debate. In a matter of hours the entire wall was covered in a myriad of slogans, pictures, and opinions.