October 26, 2001: The USA PATRIOT Act is an Act of Congress that was signed into law.
October 26, 2017: At Penn State Altoona, Restore The 4th is an event during which Young Americans for Liberty sought to educate fellow students on the 4th Amendment and on how their constitutional and individual rights have been violated and circumvented by laws such as The USA PATRIOT ACT.
I am proud to be the president of the Altoona chapter and have an opportunity to spread the ideals of liberty; however, I am most proud of the work put in by the members of the chapter. While we are currently small in number, the impact we had on campus has left a footprint much larger than I expect. Before going into further detail about the event, I want to take a moment to especially thank Andrew Kurtz for being an integral part in generating buzz about the event and for helping me to table the event today. While she is a newer member, I would also like to thank Alexis Vauss because her intelligence and motivation when it comes to many issues have helped push me to sharpen my own wits and to be more pro-active as a leader to ensure our chapter thrives.
While the end results of today’s event far exceeded my expectations, the beginning was not exactly what I had envisioned. The original plan was to start tabling at 1300 (1:00pm). Unfortunately, due to obligations which I had to a different organization, I arrived a few minutes late, and that lead to me being in a rush to transport the YAL & Restore The 4th swag (which I had), from my vehicle to the scheduled location of our Restore The 4th event: Hawthorn Building. But, thankfully, my frenetic efforts attracted attention while I struggled to cover a table with a tablecloth. While Penn State students had no doubt seen tabling events in Hawthorn previously, I believe the fact that I actually had a tablecloth and materials attracted attention. While I worked, I made eye contact with the few students who had gathered to see what I was doing and spoke to them about Young Americans for Liberty, what the values of the organization are, and about the importance of protecting the 4th Amendment. The idea that a group on campus would care about protecting individual rights and freedoms was a powerful idea which connected to a broad audience. The first batch of students I attracted expressed they had to go to class; I informed them that I would be at the table until 1500 (3:00pm), and I also asked them to provide their information on a sign-in sheet so that I could contact them later to discuss issues in further detail. So it was that I eventually won the battle against the tablecloth and have (if I may say so myself) a good looking table with intriguing information and literature. I then made the decision to acquire a second table; the first table with the tablecloth would be for conversing with students about the various literature I had located there and the 4th Amendment; the second table became the area for more interactive portions of the event (as seen in the photo).
Around the time I had acquired the second table, Andrew had arrived and helped to more strategically sort my material. Both he and I discussed what roles we would be playing during the event. Andrew would play the part of a government surveillance agent and issue citations to students as they were going about their business in Hawthorn. At that point, he would have a one-on-one discussion with them about the 4th Amendment and Young Americans for Liberty. Andrew’s position was more of a roving position intended to generate interest to and toward the table, and he also took some materials with him to hand to students after speaking with them. Meanwhile, I primarily stayed in the vicinity of the table and spoke with students about YAL and Restore The 4th while expressing my interest in promoting the idea of protecting individual rights on campus. This arrangement worked fantastically well because we were an active and engaging event; many students loved the Liberty/Surveillance poster, and even a few professors approached the table. The event was also successful because many (but not all) students at PSU Altoona were supportive of liberty-minded ideals. In some cases, students were unaware of the contents of the 4th Amendment; they were unaware that they could (for example) choose to not allow police to enter a home without a warrant. For those students, the event was educational. In other cases, students were aware that they were suppose to have rights, but had had experiences in which those rights were violated; a more specific example of that would be the practice of stopping and frisking minority groups without probable cause. The sentiment of wanting to be protected from a government which can decide to infringe upon an individual’s rights based on nothing more than their perceived amount of Melanin is an idea which easily and obviously aligns with YAL’s beliefs. (As president, I have personally supported similar ideals by travelling to D.C. in support of equality and protecting constitutional rights for all Americans – regardless of race, color, gender, creed, or orientation.)
Overall, the event was popular and well-received on the PSU Altoona campus. As I type this blog, I am also looking over the information I acquired from the various students who had approached the table; it looks as though the PSU Altoona YAL roster will grow exponentially, and I look forward to passing the idea of liberty forward. As a chapter, I look forward to doing more events. We have started small, but there is quality among our numbers. As an individual, I look forward to working with every member. Today, Restore The 4th was an unbelievable success both as a way to grow the PSU Altoona chapter and as a way to spread the ideals of liberty.