The YAL chapter at the University of New Mexico started last semester after a group of friends came together with the wish to create an organization on campus to spread the message of liberty. Our chapter was set up and chartered by our university halfway through the spring semester, so there wasn’t much time for recruitment. After making plans for our chapter over the summer and having a few of our members attend the YAL National Convention, we were all eager to make a splash at UNM. After all, we come from the state that elected Gary Johnson as Governor for two terms, so we were expecting a lot of enthusiasm.
Our recruitment festivities kicked off with a table at the club fair and social the Friday night before the semester started. We had a great response from students, and got over 90 new sign-ups! There was hardly a time when any of the five of us were not talking to students about the mission and plans for our YAL chapter.
We also had a table at the second big club fair of the year during the first week of classes. Although students were more distracted as they passed our table on the way to class, there were still enthusiastic reactions from students and staff alike. The University President stopped by our booth, nodding and saying “very interesting” as we were explaining the organization. We even talked to other clubs such as the College Republicans and the National Security Studies program about organizing activism events and speakers for issues which bring us together. In a few hours, we gained another 80 new sign-ups, bringing our total to over 170 new sign-ups!
Our first meeting of the semester, an informational meeting, was held during the second week of school. In addition to the seven core members from the spring semester, we had 16 first-time attendees, giving us a solid meeting size of 23 people. In two weeks, we were able to increase our chapter meeting attendance by over 200 percent! The presentation went smoothly, and attendees were especially interested in our account of the National Convention and the potential of networking with local and national organizations.
We had a pizza social after the presentation which allowed of our new attendees the opportunity to talk more personally with us about YAL’s professionalism, activism, and values. Every single person was excited about not only talking about issues, but actually making a difference in our university, community, and country; and everyone said they were interested in attending future meetings and participating in activism events.
What was most striking about our first meeting was how quickly and easily people interested in the liberty movement become a community. Almost everyone who attended stayed to visit with each other and eat pizza for an hour after the presentation was over. I talked to one girl who was attending many club meetings that evening, and she said other clubs (particularly student government) had seemed superficial and passionless — exactly the opposite of YAL. “I think I’ve found a new home,” she said.
YAL at UNM, although a young chapter, is off to a tremendous start this year, and I’m sure this momentum will carry us in to some great activism this year.Published in