This last Friday, members of the U of Minnesota-Twin Cities and St. Cloud State University YAL chapters, and the Midwest director for the Leadership Institute headed to the University of Minnesota Duluth for a Regional Task Force. Braving wind chill of -30 degrees, skipping class, and taking off work, we all had a very successful day.
We knew that since we had one shot to establish a chapter we would need to do something that would attract attention and zero in on an audience—hence the sandwich board.
We had one of our members with a sandwich board walk around that said “Like Ron Paul?” which of course brought in every Ron Paul supporter that walked by. This was while we were collecting signatures for our petition to bring Ron Paul to campus for a speaking event. We have found that petitions are a great way of collecting data and contact information for new members.
The sandwich board is actually how we found our new group leader Jessica, who joined us before her classes that day.
Shortly after we found Jessica and she left for class, a school administrator walked up to us and told us we could not petition or table without authorization so we were kicked out of the student center. We then walked to the dining area where we knew we could get lots of freshmen but another school administrator proceeded to kick us out. However, this lady was much nicer and pointed us to the business school where there is a designated area of “freedom of speech.”
Once we arrived in the business school and econ department we thought it would be a great opportunity to get rid of some of the copies of The Morality of Capitalism that we had. We found petitioning and tabling in the econ department to be way more successful than anywhere else. There were lots of Ron Paul supporters in the building who wanted to get involved and were very happy to receive a free book about capitalism. Who knew capitalism books, the econ department, and libertarians would mix so well?
After traffic had disappeared and students were leaving campus for the night, we hit the dorms. One of our members had canvassing data from last semester that we used to go speak with people identified as conservative or Ron Paul supporters. Since it was a Friday and not many people were home, we did not have as much luck with this, but we were able to find three more additional members.
We collected over 100 signatures on Friday, but the real victory was finding our group leader Jessica and the 21 students who said that they had a big interest in the group.
Tips for future Regional Task Force teams:
- Use a sandwich board. It grabs everyone’s attention and will ID your people quickly.
- Go to the econ department. We found the great majority of our interested members here and plan to hit other schools’ econ departments in the Twin Cities. This is just knowing your audience.
- Eat lunch after. Since this is an RTF and you may only have one shot to establish a group. Don’t waste the most active time of the day by eating. Table from 10 to 3 at least.
- Have free stuff. People love free stuff and it will excite your new recruits.
- Don’t ask for permission. This tip is essentially a universal truth for all activism, but there is no way we could have done anything in Duluth had we asked the student activities department for permission.
In Minnesota we plan to replicate this plan at a few other colleges in the Twin Cities. If you have a group of about five people, it is pretty easy work and a fun day!Published in