First YAL event at the University of Maryland-College Park a success!

For Constitution Week at UM-College Park, our chapter made a large copy of the Bill of Rights, which we asked people to sign in support of their constitutionally-recognized human rights. We also had a separate board where we asked the question, “How has government violated the Constitution?”

For a first event, we got a respectable number of signatures for the Bill of Rights. Furthermore, people didn’t feel too shy about adding to our board on how government violates the Constitution, with most of the comments focusing on NSA spying and the PATRIOT Act. We also got a few people to sign up for our meetings, adding to our list from our First Look Fair.

Some students decided to stop and talk for a while to discuss our views a little more deeply or to ask about YAL. Conversations ranged from corporatism, to the social safety net, to the coercive nature of most government action.

While tabling, we had the idea that we might have had a lot more success if we had had one of our members dress up as a “bad guy” who holds up a sign “down with free speech! More search and seizure!” so that we could have a little bit of faux-competition with him and passersby would have been incentivized to sign the Bill of Rights just to stick it to the rights violator.

Overall, we kept our table staffed from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and got slight tans out of the experience — a win-win!

What surprised us is how much apathy there was on campus. When asked to sign the Bill of Rights in support of free speech, most people said no as they walked by. Of course, people are busy, but the right to free speech is so wildly popular that more people should have stopped by.

What did not surprise us is that tabling was way more effective when we had people in front of the table directly asking people who walked by to sign the Bill instead of issuing blanket statements to everyone from behind the table.

We look forward to having our next event soon and to growing as a team. We have a solid foundation going, and we can only expand!

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