The second week of September, I invaded five campuses armed with books (Why Liberty), a sign, and sign-up lists. My mission was to identify students who are passionate about promoting liberty on each campus. Luckily, I had made some allies on most of the campuses I planned to invade, which came in handy when navigating around campus, helping with recruitment, and avoiding any problems with campus authorities.
Each campus brought its own challenges, and sometimes I found myself all alone on the battlefield; but overall we accomplished a lot, and it was definitely worth all the work and preparation. During my invasions I learned a lot, and I wanted to share this knowledge with anyone who plans on invading a campus in the future.
When planning your campus invasion, there are a few things you can do in advance to make things easier, and increase your success. First, identify a pro-liberty student or professor on the campus you intend to invade, and request their help (Facebook Graphs is a great tool to use to identify pro-liberty students on a particular campus, and IHS has a large list of pro-liberty professors from colleges around the world). If you identify a pro-liberty professor, ask if they will allow you to give a brief advertisement before or after one of their classes, and request that they become the faculty adviser if the group needs one.
Also, determine when the school has their student activities fair, and plan your invasion for that day. Sometimes is it better not to ask to participate in the student activities fair since most schools only allow registered student organizations to take part, but I recommend bringing enough materials with you to participate in the fair if the opportunity arises.
The first campus I invaded was a campus that I had never stepped foot on and had no contacts at, but without even planning I had managed to invade on the very day the school was having their student activities fair.
I found where the fair was located, I picked out an empty table, and acted as if I was suppose to be there. Since I didn’t plan on running a table that day I didn’t bring enough materials, but I made it work. I stuck my sign next to the table, stacked all the books I had brought on the table top, and stood right in front; this way students who walked by didn’t see a half empty table.
A member of the campus faculty was going around with a microphone introducing all the student groups to the large group of students that had gathered, and when he came to ‘my’ table I jumped on the microphone as if I was a fellow student running a registered organization, and that’s when I thought to myself “these people have no idea I am invading their campus right now!” That was Chaminade campus in Honolulu, Hawai’i. I managed to sign-up twelve students, but the chapter there is still forming.
My second invasion was at a campus on the other side of town called Leeward Community College, and at this campus I had already identified one pro-liberty student who agreed to help me with the invasion. I met this student using Facebook Graphs, and after building a rapport with her online, meeting her in person, and explaining to her the benefits of starting a student group on here campus, she agreed to help start a YAL chapter at her school and we started planing our invasion.
Our invasion went well; we gave out plenty of books and signed up eleven students to the new YAL group. One thing that had held the chapter back from becoming official is the requirement by the school to have a faculty adviser for the group. I was not able to find a pro-liberty professor using IHS’s list, so one of our goals during the invasion was to identify a professor who would agree to be the adviser. After strategically trying to find a professor who fit our group and being turned down by every political science and economics professors there, I started to just ask any and every professor I could find, and eventually we found a very nice Anthropology professor to advise the group.
During my third and fourth campus invasions, I ran into the same problem: campus security! But the outcome on each campus was very different.
At University of Hawai’i at West O’ahu, I had brought my books, sign, and sign-up sheets, and after about fifteen minutes of sitting in the courtyard and giving out books a campus security officer approached me asking what I was doing. I explained to him that I was just trying to start a student group, and to promote the group I am giving out books. The campus security officer ended up calling the person in charge of the campus facilities to ask if this was allowed. Of course, I knew I was completely within my rights, it is a public university, and I was practicing my First Amendment rights on public property, but I did not use any of these arguments with the campus security officer, instead I let him think that he was in charge and waited while he made his call to the proper authorities. The campus facilities manager told the campus security officer that I am perfectly fine doing what I am doing, and I ended up not having to state my rights to the officer. In fact, after talking to the officer for a bit longer, he ended up contacting the facilities manager again and requesting a table for me next time I come to campus. Hurray for cooperation!
It was a totally different story at the Honolulu Community College, and there I had two YAL members from the school assisting me. It started the same, sitting in the courtyard of the campus with my sign, books, and my sign-up sheets, and after being there for about fifteen minutes we were stopped by campus security. This officer didn’t need to call anyone, he already knew that what we were doing was not allowed, “no signs, and no giving out literature.” I was very polite to the campus security officer when I explained to him that the campus is public property, and therefore we have the right to promote our student group there.
He responded that the community college was private property and the only way we could stay there was if we cover up the books and put away the sign. We found ourselves having to make a decision to either respectfully disobey the campus security officer, or walk away and not cause any waves. So we walked away, and during the rest of our time on campus we filled out all the necessary paper work in order to get the YAL chapter officially recognized by the school, so next time we can table on campus and campus security can’t stop us.
My last invasion, Hawai’i Pacific University, is the largest private university on the island. Out of all the campuses I planned to invade, this is the one I expected the most resistance from campus authorities, but to my surprise the invasion happen without a single interruption. Using what I learned on the Chaminade campus, I planned my invasion for the same day as the Hawai’i Pacific University’s student activities fair.
Once again I found an empty table and setup, although this time I brought plenty of materials to give out. That day we signed up 40 students to the newly forming YAL group, and we were even approached by campus faculty members who requested that we come back next week for Constitution Day. Even though our group is not officially recognized by the school and I am fairly sure the campus faculty just assumed we are, that didn’t stop me from making plans to run a table for Constitution Day.
Five campuses, 200 books, one parking ticket, two run-ins with campus authorities, and 21 cups of coffee later, I am proud to say that we got 63 YAL sign-ups, and established three new YAL chapters!
In closing, the best advice I can give when attempting a campus invasion is to find a students and faculty on the campus to help you, pick a good day such as during student activity fairs, remember that problems with campus authorities are possible, but treating them nicely may pay off. My last tip is to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. I hope this information helps those who plan on invading a campus in the future.Published in