YAL – TAMU cannot help but increase its campus presence; we’re the fastest growing political club in the school, bringing in new members every week and tackling touchy subjects with ease. Made up of mutualists, anarcho-capitalists, agorists, former Marxists, objectivists, and those of other diverse political leanings, the members of YAL – TAMU exhibit the wide range of libertarian thought. Together, these Aggies seek to expand the political spectrum beyond the tired R and D continuum, expose government hypocrisy, and build a truly free society.
Most meetings are structured with audience participation in mind. Heated debate is not uncommon, and in fact, we welcome it as part of the experience. The typical plan is as follows: After presenting a topic, perhaps accompanied with an informative video, the speaker breaks up the crowd into groups of 4-5, giving each group a subtopic to discuss. No subject is off limits in discussion, with the NSA, taxation, self-determination, and military matters being favorites. The groups recombine after 10 minutes and share their insights.
Another popular tactic is dividing the room in half, with one group arguing in favor of a tax/law/etc, and the other arguing against it. Libertarians usually know WHAT they believe but have difficulty convincing a conservative or liberal WHY the other person should agree. This polarization of the audience forces half the YAL members to think like authoritarians, and by approaching the issue from that perspective, the mentality of the offending group necessarily needs to be confronted. Echo chambers are not conducive to learning, but debunking a statist’s argument point by point leads to intellectual growth.
One of the most successful recruiting opportunities came by way of weekly tabling. Almost without fail, YAL – TAMU had a presence in the main student center each Friday morning. Passing out handbills and engaging passing students in conversation allowed us to make important contacts, novel ideas to be generated, and names to be added to the contact list. Often, a student would casually mention seeing the table the week before but not having enough time to stop by, so they were glad YAL had a consistent presence.
Activism events draw attention when it they are unique and shake the status quo. Whether it be creating a sign with an edgy phrase or wearing ridiculous clothing, members of YAL –TAMU saw significantly more table traffic when their appearance stood out. Three examples:
- Ask an Anarchist: Club members who enjoyed studying the historical and philosophical roots of anarchism kept a table up for two days with a sign that said, “Ask an Anarchist.” The goal was to engage passerby on the merits of individual responsibility and postulate the likelihood of a free society. Dressing in black and behaving professionally, YAL members caused many students to reassess their previously negative views of the term “anarchy” (as in, angsty hoodie-wearing teenagers who throw Molotovs at government buildings). This in turn encouraged debates that went beyond the R and D political spectrum, delving into the very nature of centralized government and supposed authority.
- Drone Pong: Bringing to attention to the huge increase in use of drones as foreign policy tools, YAL members set up a beer pong table in the middle of campus with cups that had the name of a different country on them. Every time a participant would sink the ball, they would be rewarded with a YAL trinket and given facts about America’s use of drones in that particular country. Going through many bottle openers and pins, YAL members also gave out a box-worth of Constitutions. Naturally, this caught the attention of anyone who walked by. One of the highlights of the day was when a prospective student tour walked by; the whole group, high school students and parents alike, stopped and played drone pong!
- National School Choice Day: adorned with garish colors in the dead of winter, YAL members sought to encourage passerby to support all forms of education, from private schools to homeschooling to unschooling. Two boxes of bright yellow scarves were given out, and students could be seen wearing them all day.
As a closing thought, and as the chief student leader of the Texas A&M chapter, I encourage all chapters to reevaluate their leadership structure and delegation of responsibilities. My chapter would not enjoy the same amount of success it does if it wasn’t for everyone, from new member to commissioned officer, participating in club leadership and activities. My leadership team includes half of the chapter, each person having both specific and general responsibilities. Many tasks are delegated, and while there is technically a chain of command, there is a mutual understanding that everyone participates proportionally. Empowering individuals to carry out important tasks often leads to more loyalty and enthusiasm, which clearly leads to more success.
Altogether, YAL –TAMU continues to grow and flourish. We fully intend this next school year to be even more exciting! Thanks and Gig ‘Em.Published in