Campus Roundup: YAL has been busy on college campuses across the country

By Bonnie Kristian

Sam Spaiser and other members of the YAL chapter at Indiana University-Bloomington learned exactly what their college thought about free market economics – and it wasn’t pretty.

Spaiser and his chapter had applied to the school’s Indiana Memorial Union Board Lectures Committee for funding to bring Mises Institute senior scholar Dr. Thomas E. Woods, Jr. to speak on campus. After a consult with the school’s economics department, however, the board returned a flat refusal, citing the blatantly false excuse that Woods – a graduate of Harvard and Columbia and a New York Times bestselling author – lacked “sufficient academic credibility.”

The rejection was remarkable, particularly given the board’s past funding of a visit from presidential candidate John Edwards to the tune of $35,000, more than seven times what Woods had requested. As Spaiser noted, “It is clear that the Lectures Board rejected Woods based on philosophical differences, not his lack of credibility.”

Woods himself commented, “If my academic credentials are in question, anyone can judge for themselves at TomWoods.com. But from their point of view I’m surely uncredentialed: unlike other speakers they might consider, I haven’t wrecked any economies.”

The YAL chapter sprang into action, gaining the attention of the local press…and reconsideration from the lectures board. Perhaps not surprisingly, the reconsideration proved to be short-lived as the board once again rejected the group’s request, this time on the grounds that they were “too prepared” in their event planning.

Fortunately, YAL supporters from the university’s alumni network, Campaign for Liberty, CampusReform.org, and other pro-liberty organizations rallied around the IU-Bloomington chapter and raised the funds necessary for the group to host Woods on campus this fall. As Spaiser put it, YAL at IU-B was “ready to take IU head on with Austrian Economics!” The September event was a wild success, with more than 250 people in attendance.

YAL chapter fights town, local gun sales ban...and wins


The Young Americans for Liberty chapter at Youngstown State University in Ohio joined Ohioans for Concealed Carry, a local gun rights group, to protest a nearby town’s ban on gun sales within city limits. They picked out a location, did their research, found out they wouldn’t need a permit for their peaceful event, and began a publicity campaign.

But all that planning appeared to be for naught. The local police station -- a strong supporter of the draconian gun sales law --changed its position, deciding that an event which originally required no fee or permit would now cost the YAL chapter $2000.

Cash-strapped town officials first maintained that the fee was for police protection for the event, but later admitted that if the rally had been to support the troops instead of the Second Amendment, no police protection – and thus no fee – would have been deemed necessary.

Fortunately for the YAL chapter involved, this was clearly unconstitutional ideological discrimination – and the town backed down. First, the fee for the rally was lowered and graciously paid by Ohioans for Concealed Carry so the event could proceed as planned. And better yet, as a result of YAL’s activism, the town’s gun sales ban was repealed shortly thereafter.

Limited government defeats socialist message


In 2010, the University of Washington at Seattle found itself affected by state-wide budget cuts. Some university workers lost their jobs as class sizes grew and student services declined. These changes, coupled with upcoming tuition hikes, left the school’s Socialist Student/Worker Coalition unhappy – and calling for a big government solution to the UW’s fiscal problems.

Then the president of the campus’s YAL chapter, Mikayla Hall, described what happened next:

Rushing on my way to class yesterday, I took a short-cut through the Quad and found myself facing a small crowd of angry students. These students, members of the Socialist Student/Worker Coalition, gathered at various locations across campus and yelled in an all-day strike for progressive solutions to the state-wide budget cuts….Rather than decrease regulation and state involvement to promote competition and lower prices, they propose salary caps, a state income tax exclusively for wealthy Washingtonians, and a freeze on tuition.

“In an effort to remind people that more government is not the solution,” Hall continued, “the local YAL chapter stepped up and hosted a counter-strike.” Their efforts paid off when the YAL members became the angle of the story many local news sources chose to highlight. Standing amid more than a hundred angry socialists, the YAL members’ message of free trade and limited government became the center of attention.

Students “drown” government-run healthcare


Western Michigan University’s YAL chapter teamed up with a campus conservative group to take advantage of the warm May weather with a dunk tank and take a stand against government-run health care.

Renting a bright blue and yellow tank, they set up shop in the middle of campus. Members of the two groups got into costume as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Congressman Bart Stupak, two key players in the passage of Obamacare. They then offered passing students the chance to dunk the “politicians” and their unfortunate support of government health care, not to mention a fun break from exams.

The representation of Reid as Darth Vader in a tie played well with the crowd, and participating students received information about YAL and the problems with socialized medicine.

YAL’s activism antics brought out the local CBS station and resulted in coverage in the student-run daily newspaper, the Western Herald.

YAL chapters defend privacy rights and challenge the TSA


As anti-TSA sentiment swelled across the nation in response to the agency’s increasingly invasive and unconstitutional screening techniques, YAL sprung into action. With many students about to leave college for Thanksgiving break -- and perhaps fly home for the holiday -- the YAL national staff compiled an activism guide for students to protest the TSA, both on and off campus.

The YAL chapter at Vanderbilt University, however, already had the right idea, tabling on their campus to raise awareness about the TSA’s concerning (and 100% ineffective) practices.

After the activism guide was posted, other chapters began to stage their own protests. At UC-San Diego, for instance, the YAL chapter covered their campus with anti-TSA flyers and chalk messages. The Indiana University chapter created a video appealing to fellow citizens to stand up to the TSA’s abusive practices. Meanwhile, the Auburn University chapter created a clever display which enticed passing students to take information about the TSA.

However, perhaps the most exciting TSA protest story comes from the University of Virginia. Included in YAL’s activism guide were several flyer templates which chapters could download and customize with their own contact information. When the YAL chapter at UVA downloaded a template which depicted as the TSA mascot Pedobear, a well-known internet meme representing sexual deviance, to post around campus for their protest, they snapped a picture of one of their flyers and put it on Reddit. The image made it to the front page of this high-traffic website, garnering more than 400,000 views and over 400 comments!

From there, it was picked up by the Huffington Post and was subsequently posted on several other sites. Congratulations again to the UVA chapter for this incredible viral success!

YAL chapters promote our constitutional message, educate fellow students


To encourage involvement on Constitution Day 2010, YAL held an activism contest for all participating chapters. Aside from some awesome prizes – including and HD flipcam for the first place winners – these chapters took home bragging rights for the coming year. The competition was stiff, but the first, second, and third place chapters went above and beyond the call of duty in their celebration of our founding document:

First Place: University of Wisconsin-Madison

YAL UW-Madison had great success on Constitution Day 2010, passing out over 100 Constitutions and collecting nearly 500 signatures of students who wanted to see Ron Paul come to Madison. They tabled at a campus hot spot and engaged in friendly conversation with passersby. The group collected information from about 40 potential recruits who expressed serious interest in joining YAL. Local news outlets ignored press releases and pictures which were sent out after the event, but a law professor at UW-Madison, who runs a widely-read blog, saw the event and very favorably covered it -- which elicited 130 comments from readers. It appears freedom is popular even at UW-Madison.

Second Place: University of Texas-San Antonio

Young Americans for Liberty at UTSA created a 17-ft Constitution and displayed it in a populated area on campus. The chapter handed out over 200 Constitutions -- all they had -- and received six feet of signatures on the display, totaling more than 325 signatures. An additional 80 students signed up to learn more about YAL. The attention didn’t go unnoticed! KSAT 12, a San Antonio ABC-affiliate, picked up the story and hung around for over an hour at the event. The event was also covered by a local blog and Students for Liberty.

Third Place: Washington State University

After an evening of chalking and covering campus with flyers, YAL-WSU tabled all day for Constitution Day using the Operation Politically Homeless kit. Enticed by the colorful posters saying “student survey” and the full table display, nearly one hundred students came up to take the World’s Smallest Political Quiz. All participants received pocket Constitutions and a flyer. Any students who landed in “libertarian,” “conservative,” or “centrist” on the quiz were asked to sign the signup sheet and received a copy of YAR. Group membership increased ten-fold!

To read about other chapters’ events on Constitution Day 2010, visit www.YALiberty.org/constitutionday2010.