A campus chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, a political activism organization, has been started at Concordia, Ian Lane, the president of the chapter, said.
According to Lane, Young Americans for Liberty is a national organization whose primary goal is to educate and motivate young people to get involved in politics.
“Young Americans for Liberty was accepted as an official campus organization as of April ,” Lane said. “So this is our first full year that we have been active.”
Once Concordia officially recognized the group, they were able to become an official chapter of YAL, Lane said.
According to Ty Hicks, the Midwest regional leader for YAL, there are over 650 campus chapters across the United States.
“Our entire organization exists to serve the leaders that are heading up the efforts on individual campuses,” Hicks said. “Our mission is to identify, educate, train, and mobilize youth activists committed to ‘winning on principle.’”
YAL is not a Libertarian party affiliate, but does abide by many Libertarian values, Lane said. According to the organization’s website, YAL’s motto is “winning on principle.”
“For us, what that means is we have the ideas of liberty, we have the ideas of limited, peaceful, constitutionally constrained government and our chapters spread that message on their campuses everyday,” Hicks said.
Bjorn Altenburg, now a senior and the policy officer of Concordia’s YAL chapter, had been trying to start a Libertarian club since his freshman year.
“Originally I did not set out to make Young Americans for Liberty when I wanted to get an organization started, but I tried to make an actual Libertarian group and party affiliate,” Altenburg said.
Altenburg said he was not able to get the club started because when he first applied in 2012, he was told in an email from the Senior Associate Director of Campus Life for Student Engagement, Natalie Rinehardt, that Concordia was not accepting any new clubs at the time, due to policy revisions.
“By the end of [spring 2015] they had started allowing [new clubs], but I did not have enough people together [to constitute a club],” Altenburg said.
Later, Altenburg met a YAL recruiter on campus who connected him with Lane. The two collaborated, finding enough resources to start their own chapter at Concordia.
Lane had a similar experience as Altenburg. After Lane met some of the national YAL members at the Conservation Political Action Committee conference, he wanted to start a YAL chapter.
“I did some digging and found that Bjorn Altenburg had actually started the process,” Lane said. Lane explained that the two of them worked together to start the chapter.
While there are 50 people signed up to receive updates from the YAL chapter on campus, Lane estimates there are actually around 30 active members.
“We’ve had anywhere between seven members show up for a meeting to 15 people show up to a meeting,” Lane said. “You never really know. The same people never show up.”
Concordia’s YAL chapter plans to be very active this year, Lane said. According to Lane, the group has had two activism events so far. Their first event, entitled “Generation of War,” was on Sept. 11 of this year, where they sat in the atrium to promote discussion of the events that led up to the attacks.
“We also infiltrated SGA’s constitution day event and we did a little bit of recruiting there and handed out a variety of pocket constitutions and little notecards that explained how to deal with policemen,” Lane said.
YAL has two upcoming events planned for this semester so far. The first will be titled “Occupy the Honor Roll,” in which the YAL members will protest the lack of grade redistribution, Lane said.
“It is a satirical response to the 99 percent movement,” Lane said. “We are hoping to segue into a discussion about wealth redistribution.” That will be happening in October, according to Lane.
The group is also planning to host a campus political debate in early November, Lane said.
“We are hoping to have hardcore democrats, socialists, some independents…as well as some hard right winger republicans and maybe even tea partiers if we can find them,” Lane said.