For many YAL chapters, now is probably one of the toughest times to recruit new members.
The period directly following a national election seem to always be the hardest and most challenging times to attract new activists. Students everywhere are stuck between the left-right paradigm, hoping that their “lesser of two evils” vote will amount to the change they want to see.
Others are so burnt out of hearing about how the “other guy” is destroying their liberties and freedom they so cherish that politics are the last thing on their mind.
And, of course, students who spent all Fall blowing off their grades in some form or fashion now need to focus on the Spring semester so they can graduate or pull their grades up.
I say, “Never fear!”
As dismal as your recruitment may be, there is still hope for this semester. I have a few tips for keeping the fire going on your campus, and getting more members, and current members more involved!
1. Keep tabling. When you think you have nothing to table about, table anyway! Make up an excuse to get a few students together so you can hold discussions with anybody who passes by. Your Spring should be filled with tons of activism events, but don’t be afraid to change it up. Any presence on campus is better than none, and with YAL’s three Spring activism projects, you have lots of good options to build that presence.
2. Hold socials. Here at Stephen F. Austin State University, we have weekly meetings, and weekly socials as a part of those meetings. Liberty on the Rocks is a great thing to consider as supplementation to your recruitment and socials. Inviting prospective members to meetings is a great way to get people involved, but can sometimes be very intimidating to those who may be on the fence.
Liberty on the Rocks is a great casual way to bring new people out and hold great discussions about liberty over a few drinks (although I don’t condone underage drinking). You don’t need to be of drinking age either; I am currently 20, and have started a chapter here in Nacogdoches. If your campus doesn’t allow drinking, like ours, make it a community event. That also helps in getting professors and local liberty-minded folks out.
3. K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple, Stupid! There’s always talk during recruiting and tabling that isn’t needed. Atlas Shrugged, Mises, Hayek, objectivism, Spooner, and many very unknown names to the common person are brought up. Not that there is anything wrong with any of these people or their philosophy, but keep the discussion within the knowledge of the audience!
You have to remember, most people (like myself, I am a kinesiology and health science major) aren’t economics, philosophy, or political science majors and won’t know half the stuff you are talking about. Slowly introduce these ideas.
4. Don’t swamp people with information. I have a confession that will make objectivists cringe, Austrian school followers cry, and libertarians all over run for the hills. I have never read Ayn Rand, Hayek, Mises, Hoppe, Spooner, or any liberty book. The only book I attempted to read was The Law, which I had to finish because of a book club. I had never heard of any of these books until months after I formed the YAL chapter here at SFA. And that’s ok.
It’s ok if your new recruits have never read any of those books. Invite them to participate anyway. The more you try to swamp people with philosophy of Ayn Rand or F.A. Hayek, the less likely they will want to come to your events. They don’t want to be lectured about how ignorant you think they are. Let them know they are smart, and would be a vital part to your Liberty on the Rocks conversations.
5. Focus on issues that matter to others. I am a health major, but nobody wants to hear about my thoughts on GMOs during lunch. Nobody wants to hear that their dollar could be worth nothing in a few years because of the Federal Reserves recklessness Keep the issues focused on the people.
People like to hear stories. Tell somebody about going to ISFLC, or the YAL state conferences and how you possibly got to meet Ron Paul or your local statesman. They gets them involved. It captures people. Tell people about new advances in the technology industry, and how the low regulation in the industry has helped that out.
6. Make your conversations interesting. Talk to somebody who hasn’t read Atlas Shrugged (like me) about who John Galt is and why he is important, or why the Fed devalues currency and watch their eyes glaze over. It turns them away. Instead, talk about how a celebrity supported Ron Paul, the latest political stir, or how getting involved in the liberty movement allows them endless opportunities.
This isn’t dumbing down our philosophy; it’s getting your foot in the door so you can talk philosophy later.
7. Do something BIG! Here at SFA, we got the luxury of having enough money to hold a conference with Jeffrey Tucker, Stefan Molyneux, Stephan Kineslla, and many other figures in liberty. You may not have that opportunity, but there’s still no reason why you can’t try. Get somebody local to come hold an important speech on campus. Beg them to do it for free or minimal cost, and say it will benefit them.
Advertise it to students on campus, invite professors and faculty, make it open to the public, ask local representatives to join in, invite your mom, your dad, your grandmother, your brother, and your sister! It’s a great way to get noticed, and take my word, people DO notice.
8. Don’t give up. Things may not go right, a lot. But that is no reason to quit. Keep on keeping on, and things will turn around. If something goes wrong, evaluate what may have been bad about it and improve it. Failure doesn’t make you hopeless.
9.Never forget this quote: It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men. ~ Samuel AdamsPublished in