Building from the Ground up at a Commuter School

Tabling

Georgia State University, judging by the predominant mindsets of our professors, dwarfs the liberal environment at almost any other college in Georgia, and most within the U.S. We are also a school which is still mostly made up of commuters, meaning there is a disadvantage in getting people to come to meetings — or sometimes even interested at all. Especially challenging is finding our place as an organization coming out in the second semester of this academic year.

However formidable these obstacles seemed, we at GSU have found a way to grow our email list to approximately 60 people in 6 days of tabling. Though it was certainly a bit rough at the start, compiling the resources we would need and the strategy we would use as an executive board made up entirely of first-year students, with the help of our alumnus adviser, group bonding and optimistic energy, we soon found out how to draw fast-paced and class-focused commuter students to our table for at least a couple minutes.

Use your resources.

If any chapter has not already employed the use of Operation Politically Homeless, you need to start now. The combination of the exuberant colors and the controversial words listed, many people will be drawn to explore it more in-depth. In fact, some of the most apathetic people who came up to the table simply to see what the survey was about turned out to be among the most libertarian individuals. This chart is certainly a great motivator for people to leave their contact info, but the chart itself isn’t going to keep your table busy.

Be welcoming.

Most college students, especially in downtown Atlanta, aren’t accustomed to stopping and conversing with people. To put it bluntly, they won’t give you the time of day unless you show you really care. Always have a smile on your face and speak in a tone that shows you aren’t bored or trying to force your views on anyone.

Along with this comes using your resources, once again. Both SFL and YAL have plenty of kits and gadgets at our disposal, and you’re taking a significant hit to your campus success if you don’t pursue them. Usually, when tabling, we like to half-jokingly ask, “Hey, do you like free stuff?” Not only does this catch a chuckle out of most anyone, but who doesn’t like free stuff??

Almost anyone with a couple minutes to spare will stop by and see what’s up, at which point it’s good to detail what you have to offer and then encouragingly ask if they would be willing to take a survey. At that point, the combination of the ornate chart and the compassion you’ve shown will bring almost everyone to fill out a political quiz.

Be energetic.

It’s not enough just to smile or welcome people to the table; you have to be persistent. Liberty is a great thing, and it should inspire you to want to spread it to everyone! If that message is not conveyed, no one is going to want to get on board. Feel free to have a bit of fun (always better in group tabling) while you’re out there; act extravagantly and play to the sense of humor in the people you’re trying to reach. If you look like just another organization trying to get a sign-up list, sitting out there because you want a slot on your resume, no one is going to come up unless they want to humor you or they are already an out-of-the-closet libertarian (which is great, but you don’t need to table to find those people). 

I hope this post is helpful for everyone, especially those spreading their chapter at a commuter college. Remember to always remain optimistic and know that we are winning! As long as we keep that in mind, we have the intangible advantage of soulful passion, which when applied to action will grow any chapter. Continue to fight the raging battle for liberty with fire in your soul and kindness in your heart.

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