Constitution Week 2013 with YAL at USF

It’s the most wonderful time of year — Constitution Week 2013 is here! From the first day (September 17) to the last day (September 24), YAL at the University of South Florida planned events all over campus to celebrate our Nation’s great founding!

Four score and several weeks ago, our journey began two counties south of USF and in the garage of our VP’s father. He generously created and donated a large wooden A-frame for our chapter to use to our heart’s desires. With it, we decided to double up our Free Speech Wall efforts and create a mini mobile wall that could be taken to different locations on campus to increase our visibility. Additionally, we are in the process of designing a large-scale YAL logo stencil to paint onto the frame.

Getting the a-frame ready for its debut!

mini free speech wall

In addition, a larger wall was erected at the entrance of the campus library where it was warmly received. In the brief five hours it was set up, we came back to see it filling up nicely.

before

after

In addition, our chapter decided against constructing the large 3-panel wall for a few reasons. We were invited to sit on a Civic Engagement Task Force committee run by the University. An idea was thrown out saying perhaps we could contribute the writings on the wall to a university time capsule as a snapshot of the concerns and thoughts on students minds here in 2013. For this reason (and for transportation and manpower factors) we opted to use a canvas material so the wall could be saved and folded for safe-keeping, and it would better last against the humid and torrential downpour Florida elements. 

Both free speech walls were made with this canvas material, and we are bringing them to the next Civic Engagement meeting for feedback. In addition, the committee would like to expand on YAL’s initiative of having free speech walls by sponsoring several walls on campus equipped with seating areas and lunchtime discussions so students can not only write on the wall, but discuss their viewpoints with others at the same time.

For the first time, YAL at USF also tried a new visual display: a Constitution Graveyard. Too often are our rights violated, and usually people are not aware of these infringements until it happens to them. This display chose a few of the most notable amendments that are violated today. 

graveyard

Included were amendments 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, and 14 along with where they most notably died, and how. Case links are provided on our Facebook page for those who had any questions or concerns about the references. This display will not only come out once per year for Constitution Week, but we have big plans for its return during Halloween. 

students mourning

The graveyard was an excellent display that really had students thinking about the overall picture of our current state of tyranny in America. Too often they hear of a case here or there that may or may not violate certain amendments, but to see multiple amendments on display as “dead,” conversations were sparked.

One passing student made the comment: “I never really thought about it like this. I’ve only heard constitutional issues like this in pieces, but to see them all together makes me realize how far out of control our government has become.”

A faculty member commended our efforts for addressing multiple amendments rather than JUST the notorious First and Second Amendments.

Despite this being a passive display left up for the span of Constitution Week, our chapter members overheard many students talking about it. We all looked at each other with satisfied looks saying, “Mission accomplished. People are starting to think.”

Lastly, our big finale for the week was unfortunately postponed due to the flu spreading around campus like wildfire, but it is still a noteworthy accomplishment worth mentioning. Over the summer YAL officers shared frustration in competing with larger political party organizations like College Republicans (CR) and College Democrats (CD) while trying to break the status quo of left-or-right/red-or-blue party politics. It was then decided through networking we would pitch the idea of hosting a debate between organization representatives. Through many late nights, several emails, rejections, and compromises, we finally had multiple student-run political organizations on-board to participate in a Debate on Current Affairs, including NORML and Students for a Democratic Society.

co-org debate officer meeting
From left to right: Eli with NORML, Lana with YALatUSF and SFL, Emily with CR, John with CD, and Ryan with YAL at USF.

debate flyer

Even though the date for the debate had to be pushed back, our press release is ready to go and we are still 100% going to host the event before the school year is over to engage students in conversations about topics that affect our generation.

press release

Too often it goes unnoticed that most law-makers are 50+ years old and out-of-touch with OUR generation. That’s why YOUNG Americans for Liberty at USF is leading the way to get the conversation started and to reach out to students in order to show them we need to be heard… otherwise our legislators will only care about programs that directly affect them.

a-frame

Despite a few bumps in the road, YAL at USF has had the most active and exhilarating Constitution Week in our chapter’s history. We pioneered the Constitution Graveyard, expanded the Free Speech Wall and even got the University directly interested in hosting their own Free Speech Walls in the future, organized and planned the first ever co-organizational political debate among our peers, have a large wooden A-frame as a permanent advertising presence for our chapter on campus, AND have a seat at the table in the Civic Engagement Task Force!

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14th

Is there anything @YALatUSF and #TeamBadass can’t do?!

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