YAL at The University of Texas and Saint Edward’s University Attend the New Orleans SFL Regional Conference!

With no hopes of knowing what the Students For Liberty New Orleans Regional Conference might have in store for us, besides lots of liberty, I, Nick Virden, and my enthused crew of liberty advocates from YAL at The University of Texas at Austin and Saint Edward’s University set out on a seven-and-a-half hour long adventure to New Orleans!

Our adventure began in Austin, where pre-trip selfies were taken and cars were loaded with people, backpacks, snacks, pillows, and blankets. As we closed in on the traffic behemoth that is Houston, we made a dinner stop with Texas A&M YAL at a fine Texas restaurant, Whataburger, to converse about liberty and banter generally about college. Within this fine establishment, the newbies from the newly formed Saint Edward’s University YAL got their first taste of the great networking opportunity that would be the Students For Liberty New Orleans Regional Conference!

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In true Longhorn and Hilltopper style, we descended on New Orleans, Louisiana like a massive stampede of Texas liberty – the best kind! We traversed the beautiful, contiguous Loyola and Tulane University campuses in order to arrive to the lecture hall where we spend a good majority of our day. Naturally, we took a conference-day Selfie For Liberty (SFL) to commemorate the moment!

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While the photo above shows some of our caravan to New Orleans, our YAL group consisted of a Young Americans for Liberty State Chair and Chapter President, me (left), YAL UT Austin’s resident Students For Liberty Campus Coordinator, Sara Harpole (right), eight YAL UT Austin members, and the Chapter President and Vice President of St. Ed’s YAL! It’s as many as we could cram in an SUV and a Chevy Montecarlo, or we would have brought more!

As we entered what I will term the Building For Liberty, we were immediately engaged in a room just off of the main hallway with the New Orleans Regional Conference’s partner organizations, such as The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), The Charles Koch Institute (CKI), and many others that were ready to hand out freedom by the goody-bag-full! Nearly every student that I and fellow CC, Sara Harpole, brought, especially the Saint Edward’s students, were newly introduced to all the sponsoring organizations that offered goodies and internships! It was a great way for them to experience the diversity of issues the liberty movement takes on in addition to the professional advancement fellowships that they could pursue! 

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From the time we got to the conference, the newbies spent a lot of time socializing among our group and making connections with other students from within the SFL network. There were definitely new connections made! Once the newbies had started to wind down their conversations, we herded them to the presentation by Isaac Morehouse of Praxis. His presentation on entrepreneurs shaking up the world by using creative destruction and what he called “disruptive” technologies was absolutely amazing. It really revealed how the entrepreneur is the ultimate change-maker in the world, even when bureaucracy gets in the way. What was even more promising is that Isaac explained the concept in such an engaging manner that, when I asked my members about all the talks throughout the day, his stood out as a highlight.

In the mid-afternoon, George Crowley of Troy University gave one of the funniest, most entertaining talks I’ve heard at an SFL Regional Conference! Mr. Crowley employed an interesting method that showed the more anarchist side of the liberty movement by utilizing South Park to explain Public Choice Theory and how it relates to voting. He demonstrated how frivolous voting can really be when the numbers become very large and problem turned some questioning monarchists into anarchists. Upon reflection of the talk with my group members, it was clear that South Park had got them thinking about voting and how useful/useless it is. 

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Angela Keaton from AntiWar.com was next. She, in my opinion, brought one of the most thought-provoking speeches out of any of the three Regional Conferences that I attended. Her talk on what feminism ought to be and how it ought to be recognized in history was nothing short of mind-blowing. She incorporated history to prove that feminism should be about empowering women, not victimizing them, and showing them how to coexist with men, not hate men simply because they are men. Of all the talks, this talk stuck with me because I had originally regarded feminism as incompatible with liberty. Moreover, the female members that we brought to the have been chatting about what she said ever since the conference ended! They recognized that they could be strong women and live a life filled with liberty while at the same time promoting women’s equality.

My overall takeaway from the New Orleans Regional Conference was that this idea of liberty is important in all aspects of human life. Moreover, we have to propagate liberty as an idea that has always prevailed throughout time and that the rights of the individual should be prized above the group. While I already have plenty of experience with liberty, I believe the attendees learned some seriously important information on the key tenets of libertarianism to demonstrate that liberty is the most serious ideology. From my observation after the conference, it was clear that the Saint Edward’s group and some of my newer members had found a reason to believe that spreading liberty was the right way to proceed in their lives. It was a great feeling to see them invigorated for liberty and ready to take action to spread it on campus!

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