It is a scary trend that students on campuses across the country are demanding censorship and limited viewpoints at their schools. We have a respectable track record of free speech at University of Maryland and our YAL chapter in College Park wanted to make sure it stays that way. With the help of Young Americans for Liberty, we were able to carry out an activity on campus that was sure to draw attention and get our message out.
We bought a seven-foot beach ball and rolled it around densely populated areas of the College Park campus. We were expecting to receive resistance from students that might fear being triggered by something written on the ball, and we were prepared, but it never happened. We received an abundance of praise for brightening up students’ day. Our number one question was “What is this all about, why are you doing this.” For once, students were coming up to us instead of us flagging them down, and they came in droves.
People were promoting religious beliefs, opinions of classes, awareness of oppression and above all, who to (or not to) vote for. A large number of students were very interested in reading everything people had written. The majority of participants thanked us and told us that we made their day. We were able to explain the importance of free speech to at least 100 students. One of the most exciting developments was that a journalist for the school newspaper caught wind of what we were doing and made a video to add to their YouTube channel.
The meeting that followed was our largest and most diverse. The turnout and the discussion that followed among new members sculpted the way we do things at College Park Young Americans for Liberty. We attracted so many viewpoints that our discussion lasted for two and a half hours and we touched on many topics. The president of the Terps for Bernie club and the Terps for Trump president provided many new viewpoints and they both come to our meetings now.
One of the most important things we did was to have a meeting the night of the event. We handed out fliers that said Free Pizza for Free Speech and the time and date was “Tonight at 7.” By having the meeting only a few hours later, we were able to limit the amount of people that forgot. When someone would claim to busy that night, we would have them sign the sign-up sheet so we could let them know about our next meeting in advance. Overall, the day was a great success and we look forward to continuing to promote free speech on our campus.