Raleigh is known for many things. The “City of Oaks,” the capital of North Carolina, the city where President Andrew Johnson was born, a fast-growing area of relocated yankees, and a place where the economic opportunity just keeps on growing.
Some people, however, may be surprised to hear that it is a city where liberty is blooming.
Hi, I’m Eric Ward, currently the President of Young Americans for Liberty @ Wake Tech.
I’m going to discuss with you what’s happening with YAL in Raleigh. More specifically, in South Raleigh at Wake Technical Community College.
Before 2015, there was no YAL group on campus, but that changed when I reached out and brought the libertarian argument to campus.
Wake Tech’s overall student community however, is not known to have a high interest in politics. This is unfortunate, but we see a window of opportunity to explain why being informed is important.
Even though most students work, pay taxes, pay insurance, and buy gas for their daily commutes, politics seems to take a back seat. Many just don’t see it as that important in their everyday life.
Despite the challenge, I accepted it.
Our very first goal was to get recognized by the school. We are still waiting for their official approval. Our thinking was, if the school puts us on the map, new membership will flourish. That is something we are hoping for in fall of 2015.
To get there, we needed 10 signatures from students, and 2-3 advisers.
Our advisers include two professors from the economics department who are libertarian and capitalist by philosophy. One of them was my professor for Microeconomics. We also have a third adviser who currently works part time in the library and was a former library director at Wake Tech. He’s old enough to have cast a vote for Republican candidate Barry Goldwater in 1964, and to have voted for the very early Libertarian Party nominees for President in the 1970’s.
We are very grateful to have these three on board with us as they clearly believe what we believe.
Finding advisers wasn’t terribly hard, but finding student signatures took some effort.
In March, on a rainy friday, I along with another YAL officer from NC State held a tabling event indoors with the classic political test YAL provides. We noticed there were many moderates at Wake Tech. There may be truth to the rumor that North Carolina has become a purple state in federal and state elections. Indoor activism can be good, but it’s not as effective as outdoor activism in my opinion. While we did get a few signatures, there was still more work to be done.
Toward the end of the semester, I tabled outdoors to get more signatures and to discuss Incarceration Nation with students. Our position on the War on Drugs was a big winner on getting people’s attention. It’s simply outrageous how someone involved in non-violent marijuana sales should be imprisoned for 55 years.
This event helped us reach our goal. I also passed out a lot of literature and gave people my card if they were interested in staying in contact. Of everyone I talked to, there was no negative feedback about my message. This was our most successful event.
I think these single issue pitches can be great because it can get certain groups excited to know more about us.
Recently in Cary, I had a meeting with 2 other members who are now officers. We are looking ahead to the fall and want to end that semester with a YAL chapter much stronger than it is now.
We are proud of the work we’ve done so far, but there’s so much more to do in order to spread the liberty message across campus. We are also looking to possibly work with other groups on campus on issues where we agree, as well as hold new and exciting events to get more people interested in what we are doing.
With Wake Tech entering the YAL mix, supporters of smaller government can feel good about Raleigh being more and more a part of the solution in spreading liberty.Published in