Thursday, May 28, 2009

FIRE's Campus Freedom Network Summer Conference 2009!

Students for Liberty!

There is an opportunity this summer to join in on the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) Campus Freedom Network Summer Conference !

Click here for details and to apply!

If accepted:
The conference takes place in the Doubletree Hotel, Philadelphia, PA.

It will begin on Thursday, June 18th with a 5:00 p.m. check-in and will end after lunch on Saturday, June 20th. FIRE is covering hotel rooms for the nights of Thursday, June 18th, and Friday, June 19th. You will be assigned a roommate and each room will be fitted with two queen beds.

The travel cost may be covered by FIRE's $300 travel voucher.

Good luck!

Spring Liberty in Philadelphia!

Hello, fellow liberty lovers!

I apologize for not being able to update "the Liberty Bell," but there has been so much going on in Philadelphia that I hardly have any free time left! And I also apologize for a very long entry!

On April 15th, some Student Liberty Front members and myself went out to Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ) to see an event hosted by the Rutgers Libertarians.
They were hosting Republican candidate for governor, Steve Lonegan. Lonegan has been called a Reganite by many and promises to lower New Jersey's high taxes. He is socially very conservative, however, and it seemed like many of those who are liberty-minded were a bit discouraged by his stance on gay marriage.



On April 25th, I took part in the END THE FED rally in Philadelphia with the Student Liberty Front and some other fellow freedom fighters. Afterwards, the Philadelphia Forum for Freedom Conference took place at Temple University. Quite the action packed day!
We met at City Hall at 10:00AM and were rallying there until about 11:22AM. At that point, we all marched down Market Street, and turned onto 6th Street that led us to the Federal Reserve.
We protested for a bit, signed some petitions, and eventually moved inside of the National Constitution Center. Speakers included:


At 2, however, the Student Liberty Front members left to make it to the Philadelphia Forum for Freedom conference. There, we got to learn a bit more about the past events of the P.F.F., what’s to come, discussed the P.F.F. Constitution, embarked in philosophical conversation, played some Trivial Pursuit and socialized.

By May, I had already attended two spring ralleys (Tax Day and END THE FED), but they weren't over yet.
On May 2nd, I attended the NORML march on South Street, beginning at 4:20 (original) on South and Broad Streets, marching down South Street almost all the way to the Delaware. This was the fifth year in a row that this march has taken place, and at least some progress on ending the Drug War in America has taken place on May 13th,

The Equality Forum march and protest was on May 3rd, a rainy day like that of the Tea Party. The march was well organized and even had the Freedom Band of Philadelphia playing! We marched up to Independence Hall from around 5th and Market, rallied for a bit, and listened to many speakers. The main topics of discussion were “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” hate crimes, gay marriage and equality in the work place.

On May 12th, Student Liberty Front hosted Radley Balko at Drexel University. Balko is a former policy analyst with the Cato Institute, and now a senior editor for Reason magazine. He also is a biweekly columnist with FoxNews.com. He spoke on the drug war and police militarization in America.

Just this Monday, on Memorial Day, I attended a cookout at Warwick County Park with Pennsylvania's Campaign for Liberty in celebration of Liberty Rider's Michael Maresco. He is currently in the process of biking across the country, coast to coast, all for the cause of liberty. It was a great opportunity to meet him and congratulate him on his noble cause.




And tonight nearly concludes our Spring events at Drexel, and Student Liberty Front is hosting Rep. Sam Rohrer and Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo in The Destruction of American Federalism: A Silent Threat to American Liberty." Look forward to updates on the event, we're looking forward to a great turnout!

litz@drexel.edu / www.ladyinliberty.com / 267-750-8407 for more information on Philadelphia events!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Victory for Pro-Liberty Student Groups in Florida

I was very pleasantly surprised to read this morning that a federal court recently struck down a Florida campaign law requiring nonpartisan groups to register as elections groups on the grounds that it unconstitutionally limits free speech. The law required any group that merely discussed candidates (without endorsements or opposition):
  • Register with the government within 24 hours;
  • Appoint a campaign treasurer or custodian of the books;
  • Designate a depository;
  • Make regular reports of expenditures; and
  • Disclose contributors.
One of the plaintiffs in the case was none other than the University of Florida College Libertarians, a Students For Liberty Affiliate. The suit was brought by one of Students For Liberty's friends, the Institute for Justice. All too often, pro-liberty groups are discriminated against by being denied equal access to resources and held to higher standards than their more well-accepted peer organizations. I believe that this opinion holds wide ranging implications for free speech and pro-liberty student groups around the country.

You can read the full opinion here.

When I ran the Penn Libertarian Association, a non-partisan student organization at the University of Pennsylvania, we were constantly discriminated against by the Student Activities Council. Even though we had no affiliation with the Libertarian Party, did not endorse or oppose either candidates or legislation, but merely advanced the libertarian philosophy on campus, we were denied university funding and often grouped under the same classification as the College Republicans and the College Democrats. This was partly due to a simple misunderstanding of the difference between the small "l" libertarian philosophy and the big "L" Libertarian Party. However, there seemed to be more than that. The Penn ACLU received an annual budget from the Student Activities Council because they were not political, and no matter how many times we tried to explain that we were not a partisan organization, the Council refused to believe us. We were forced to seek assistance from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education who sent a letter to the university criticizing the system, and which has led to significant reform in the university's funding practices. While we won this battle, I know that many other pro-liberty groups are still fighting for equality.

I believe that student groups should invoke this ruling when defending their rights to university funds and access to other resources that have historically been denied to pro-liberty student groups because of their minority status on campus. Next time your organization faces excessive requirements or discrimination from the university because it discusses politics, not only should you contact FIRE, but you should invoke this ruling and challenge those who are denying you equal rights. While the ruling applies to the state, the general principle it supports is that student groups who do not make endorsements and do not lobby should not be treated like partisan organizations and held to the same standards. The rulings says that holding them to the same standard with requirements and restrictions unconstitutionally limits free speech. It is powerful ammunition in the fight for free speech and individual rights on campus. We should all thank the Institute for Justice and the University of Florida College Libertarians for bringing this case forward.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

SFL Exec Board Social

The entire 2009-2010 Students For Liberty Executive Board will be in Washington D.C. for a Leadership Retreat next week (June 1-5). This is going to be a grueling week of orientations, discussions, workshops, strategizing sessions, meetings, and more work than we want to think about right now. So, we're going to throw a little shindig at the end of the week to celebrate finishing the retreat and give everyone in the DC movement for liberty an opportunity to meet the leaders of the student movement for liberty. Come on out and join us to make connections and get to know the people who are advancing the cause of liberty on campuses around the world!
SFL Leadership:
  • Katya Akudovich, International Director
  • Carlo Cordasco, European Director
  • Sam Eckman, Director
  • Alexander Falkenstein, West Coast Director
  • William Freeland, Midwest Director
  • Jared Fuller, Southern Director
  • Sloane Frost, Director
  • Masood Manoochehri, Northeast Director
  • Alexander McCobin, Executive Director
  • Irena Schneider, Mid-Atlantic Director
What: SFL Exec Board Social
When: Friday, June 5th from 6-whenever
Where: Capitol City Brewery off the Metro Center stop
Why: Meet the 2009-2010 SFL Exec Board and network with those students who are leading the fight for liberty on campus today!
Note: You do not need to be 21 to get into the restaurant.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

We get a lot of interesting hairstyles in the DC public schools, but no one has ever been kicked out of school for it like this Texan. Apparently shaving a logo into one's head is grounds for disciplinary action? Whatever happened to freedom of expression in such a non-harmful scenario? We sure are starting young teaching students to conform.

And of course, a huge congratulations to the Journal authors! Your submissions were all wonderful, and I'm very pleased to see the recognition go to such deserving students.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Journal of Liberty and Society Published

I am proud to announce that the first edition of the Journal of Liberty and Society has just been released! The journal features 7 of the best undergraduate papers on the topic of liberty out there. The purpose of this journal is to encourage academic work surrounding the topic of liberty and its role in society for undergraduates everywhere.


Special congratulations also goes out to the winners of the Prometheus Institute Prizes! The 2009 Top Papers in the Journal of Liberty and Society will each receive $350. The honorable mention will receive $100, and all three winners are invited to join the Prometheus Institute staff for the Fall semester.

- TOP PAPERS -

Those Capitalist Demons! Anti-Market Bias in Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Heidi C. Lange, Hillsdale College
For its creative application of popular culture themes to political ideals, Heidi Lange’s paper on the literal demonization of capitalism in Buffy the Vampire Slayer receives top honors.

Unlikely Parallels: Libertarianism and Identity Politics
Francis Boyle, Temple University
For its powerful synthesis of seemingly disparate political ideologies, Francis Boyle’s article on the similarities between libertarianism and identity politics receives top honors.

- HONORABLE MENTION -

Mill and Hayek: Liberty, Morality, and Socialism
Andrew Knauer, University of Southern California, Santa Barbara
For its recognition of the importance of evolutionary concepts to freedom, Andrew Knauer’s paper on the different interpretations of socialism by Mill and Hayek receives our honorable mention.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Liberty from London: We’re all civil-libertarians now

There are times when one is forced to wonder what it is that makes the average man in the street tick, what it is which motivates him, has the power to impel him to act.

The past month in Britain has been no different. If the newspapers were to be believed we’re all privacy hawks now, outraged at the encroachment upon our right to go about our business unmolested and unsurveilled.

And you might very well say, ‘Excellent’, the people have seen what 12 years of socialism in Britain has wrought. They’re standing athwart history and yelling ‘STOP’ to the State. ‘This far, and no further, and frankly, back up a bit’. Only, they aren’t. The issue which has motivated Britons isn’t the erosion of our civil liberties. It isn’t the neutering of the Mother of all Parliaments. It’s Google StreetView.

Within hours of its launch, indignant citizens were contacting the press, writing letters to editors, emailing their Members of Parliament, plotting legal challenges, forcing the removal of images and generally spluttering with foam-flecked indignation at the audacity of Google to publish some hazy images of their street, and just about identifiable people.

Surely, your holiday snaps – posted to MySpace, Facebook, Flickr et al, are really no more a threat to liberty than StreetView is. And so I’m at a loss to understand what it is that has enraged Britons about it. We have a government which is building ever more databases, at ever greater expense to the taxpayer. They even want to store our phone calls, emails and Facebook messages. Yet this government has a history of failing to abide by any notion of data security – having lost, at some point, just about every record it’s kept. These centralised databases are open to countless state employees who can, at the click of a button, pry into your most personal data. Thanks to our complicity in the European Union federalist agenda this data is soon to be shared with over 500 agencies and bodies across the continent.

If that wasn’t heinous enough, Britain is home to a quarter of the world’s CCTV cameras, 32 of which are within 200 yards of George Orwell’s home. Our government is pushing ahead relentlessly with personal identification cards, claiming they will make us more secure and guard against terrorism, whilst we know they can’t. That same government has allowed councils to invoke anti-terrorism legislation to spy on our trash can habits.

(“Those who would sacrifice a little liberty in return for a little security deserve neither liberty nor security.”)

And yet for all this, Britons are most outraged by a private sector company posting a synthesis of photos and maps. The crushing irony – which once again proves why government should be as small as possible and why the private sector trumps the public sector every time – is that Google has listened to Britons and removed offending images. The British government has ‘listened’ to the British people and utterly disregarded what it’s heard, because unlike Google it’s virtually unaccountable.

If this episode has taught us anything it’s that the British people have more than sufficient capacity to rise up and hold power to account. In opposing StreetView they’ve done everything that we activists ever ask of them – they’ve made some noise, in every medium conceivable. Yet their motivation seems obscure. If we could just channel their moral indignation into attacks on the real threats to liberty we might yet have freedom in our time.

Edward Hallam is co-editor of TheYoungConservative.

Great Comic

Just saw this comic and thought it deserved recognition:


Monday, May 4, 2009

2009-2010 Foundations of Freedom Fellows

Students For Liberty's Foundations of Freedom Fellowship is a year-long academic fellowship that provides talented high school students with the opportunity to academically engage the ideas behind liberty and prepare for their college ambitions. Each Fellow is assigned an advisor who specializes in their subject of study (e.g. a college professor or public policy expert). By completing a year-long reading list of scholarly work on liberty, writing a senior thesis about liberty, and accessing Students For Liberty members for college application support, Fellows receive unparalleled opportunities to study the foundations of liberty and prepare for their academic future. The 2008-2009 Foundations of Freedom Fellow, Alex Koren, is currently finishing his senior thesis on the philosophical origins of liberty in the United States, why the philosophy of liberty began to decline in predominance over the course of the United States' history, and how it can be revived.

The 2009-2010 Foundations of Freedom Fellows have been selected. Congratulations to Daniel Cuervo, Dorian Gomberg, and Jacob Arluck! While we only intended to accept two Fellows for the 2009-2010 year, we were so impressed by these three students that we decided to expand the pgoram. You can read about next year's fellows on Students For Liberty's website here. In preparation for the Fellowship, Students For Liberty has partnered with the Foundation for Economic Education to have all Fellows receive an automatic acceptance to Freedom 101, a free summer seminar for high school students on freedom.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Freedom What?

When you see $3.5 trillion dollar budgets and elected representatives reneging on campaign promises, it often feels like we as young people are powerless.  The first step to fighting back, though, is knowing what the current rules are and where we stand.  With the recent FCC ruling on free speech I figured I'd share this link from the First Amendment Center on student speech rights.

(Of course, should you find yourself frustrated after you're done reading, go ahead and wish Alexander a happy birthday with an SFL donation.)