After having three members of our chapter attend the 2011 YAL National Convention in Arlington this past summer, our group was ready to hit campus in the fall. By mid-week at the convention we had purchased a sweet banner from Mondo Print, and by the time we were hitting the road back to North Carolina, we already had our plans set. One of the biggest differences between this year and last year was delegation of power. Everything runs more smoothly when you delegate, delegate, delegate.
We started out with “Cates Crawl“, a chance for mostly incoming students to check out different clubs on campus. Being that they hold this before classes even started or upperclassmen had even arrived on campus, I was pleased that we had at least 3 people manning the table at all times over the course of several hours. It ended up being a great time to see some familiar YAL faces who we hadn’t seen since the spring as well as getting over 60 names of (mostly) freshman.
Thanks to the convention, we knew how to go above and beyond to stand out and get attention. Hanging the new banner as well as a YAL t-shirt up on the wall behind us allowed us to just keep sign-up sheets and giveaways on the table – clutter free.
The next day was even more packed, with two different events on our plate – one in the afternoon and one in the evening. It started with the CHASS (College of Humanities and Social Sciences) “Welcome Back Bash”. We are already well-connected through CHASS as they are our primary source of funding, but being able to reach out specifically to humanities and social sciences students gives us a huge leg up on the competition. Even though it was a smaller event, it was so saturated with people who have an interest in politics that we still filled 2 new signup sheets.
Several people, upon realizing that no college Democrats/Republicans were there, signed up with us because they wanted to be active on campus, and they saw us out their recruiting people. YAL’s new palm cards that detail what we have in common with either side of the aisle were extremely helpful in this regard. Rather than being divisive or finding out what we disagree on, we focused on building coalitions on campus.
Then was the event that everyone looks forward to — the student organization fair out on the campus’ brickyard. This is a week in to school, and all the clubs come prepared. Our activism kit had arrived and we had tons of fresh materials to get out, in addition to free copies of SFL’s “Morality of Capitalism.”
For the day as a whole, we collected over 80 signatures. I would come back from class to come man the table again only to find sheets filled and new ones in their place. One advantage of being a newer club on campus is that there is something that will picque the interest of many passerbys that will give you the opportunity to lure them in. More often than not, you end up with a name, phone number and e-mail.
By this time, we had established an e-mail listserv that was nearly non-existant last year to over 150 people. Building that type of infrastructure for the chapter is extremely important for longevity. Beyond that, our twitter account has 150+ followers, allowing us to now get a message out instantaneously to a network of liberty-minded activists on campus.
Finally, things culminated with our first meeting. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out quite as expected, as the university won’t let anybody book a room until a week or two in to the semester. We had many people who kept hounding us about when our first meeting was, so we had to book a room and send out an e-mail with only about two days notice. Given that, we were pleased with the turnout, as we had about an additional 5-10 people who specifically couldn’t make it that night due to prior obligations, but wanted to be filled in.
Luckily we had a bonus shortly thereafter where we got to protest the visit of President Obama to campus to campaign on his new “jobs” bill. You can check out that blog post here: