Before forming the YAL chapter at Vandy, I started off my first year by stirring controversy on campus with my first letter to the editor published in the official campus newspaper The Hustler. The article was a criticism of the university’s Community Creed, and focused on the restrictions it imposed on students’ rights. FIRE’s blog, The Torch, also commented on the article.
Luckily, Young Americans for Liberty at Vanderbilt University was formed at the beginning of this semester with few obstacles. There had existed a College Libertarians group on campus before our arrival that had since become inactive. After a quick conversation with the Director of Student Organizations, we received access to the room reservation system from the Office of Reservations and Events along with access to the account number and the remaining funds in that account previously used by the College Libertarians. Our chapter application was submitted on Sept. 8th and granted provisional status that evening.
The next day, we held our first interest meeting where we signed up our first few members and met with local Campaign for Liberty organizers. The next week, on Constitution Day, our chapter held our first event distributing 200 Pocket Constitutions, provided by YAL National, along with surveys from our Operation Politically Homeless kit. We had great participation and students were very receptive to our message of promoting the Constitution. We also had our first encounter with the VU police that morning. They had heard we were doing a Constitution day event and came by to see how we were doing and support us.
The first article about our organization was published in The Torch, the conservative-libertarian campus publication, in its October issue. The article was very helpful in spreading the news about our new organization among the conservative sphere on campus.
By the second week in October, our organization’s constitution had been finalized and submitted along with all the forms necessary for official recognition from the university. On Oct. 18th, YAL@VU received official status from YAL National.
When the opinion editor for The Hustler wrote a column asking the questions: “Whose policies got us into this mess to begin with, and which party has the ideas needed to get us out of the crises facing our country,” a column which ended in a plea for students to vote Democrat in November, I responded in my own column criticizing both Democrats and Republicans for their failed economic policies, which I admit ended in my own shameless plug for the libertarians.
On Nov. 5th, YAL@VU tabled with Guy Fawkes masks, kicking off our Ron Paul petition drive. That night we also held a private screening of V for Vendetta for our members and friends.
On Nov. 11th, YAL@VU attended a town hall meeting in Nashville where Senator Corker did a presentation on the national debt along with a Q&A session. YAL@VU crashed the party with Federal Reserve pamphlets and turned the course of the discussion. The YAL blog post and video of the Q&A can be found here.
On Nov. 15th, we brought out our “END THE FED” poster and tabled again. Several students came up to us to talk about the Federal Reserve. We had some interesting debates one of which was with a grad student studying finance. My roommate told me that word of our activities had spread to his macroecon professor who commented on it during class. (After my brief experience with the Vandy econ department, I’ve concluded they’re almost all Keynesian.)
On Nov. 16th and 19th, we tabled to inform students about TSA scanners before most headed home this past weekend.
Looking ahead, our chapter will be focusing on “End the Fed” tabling for the rest of this semester. We also have a tea party social planned during finals week to celebrate the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. Next semester, we plan to host a speaker from FIRE to give on a lecture on student rights at Vanderbilt. We’re also planning on attending a local political training event hosted by C4L in mid January. We may have an empty holsters event in the works for late Spring. And, we’re also encouraging our members to attend the CPAC and ISFL conferences next year.