Constitution Week at Vanderbilt University

On September 17, Vanderbilt University’s Young Americans for Liberty chapter set up a free speech wall in honor of Constitution Day. This was the second year we constructed our massive wall (with the help of power tools and help from volunteers, of course). Take a look!

A clean slate

With three large wooden panels, a huge roll of paper, and several markers, we were ready to take on the day. We set up in front of Rand, the largest student center, during the lunch rush. Accompanied by good weather and an army of Constitutions, it was bound to be a success — and it was!

Embracing freedom

Several volunteers assisted throughout the day and managed to give away a little over a hundred pocket book constitutions. In addition, we had partnered up with VandyRadio, another firm supporter of free speech, who advertised the event and brought even more attention to the wall. We also gave out flyers for our event, a screening of “America’s Longest War,” a film about the failure of the drug war.

As the blank paper slowly filled up with quotes, shout-outs, drawings, and questions, we also had a “Free Speech Ball” that was the mobile version of our free speech wall. It was about four feet in diameter and made its way into several classrooms where professors and busy students wrote down their thoughts. 

Free Speech Ball

I decided to spend more time volunteering at the wall than last year because (1) I did not have class and (2) it is actually such a joy seeing the First Amendment in action. There were all kinds of people who were eager to write – police officers, workers, freshmen, seniors, and prospective students among them. It was also great to field the question “What organization is sponsoring this?” When people come to you asking about your organization, it makes the recruitment process much easier. 

I added a handful of people to our mailing list after that day. And as Constitution Day sadly came to a close, we decided to let the sentiment last a little longer by keeping up the wall for the next week. I often passed by the wall and saw a curious person looking at it, writing on it, or discussing it with another onlooker. 

Finished masterpiece

The Free Speech Wall is a fun, creative, and effective way to promote libertarian ideals! After drawing interest from passers-by, it is important to give them information about the organization with an elevator pitch. This proved the most effective in our case, but of course every campus is different. And for those of you trying to gain more active members at your college, it’s worth a shot to try out the wall, even if it’s not Constitution Day anymore! 

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