The first week of February 2010 will be long-remembered by residents of the Washington D.C. area. It was the week of “Snowpocalypse,” when forty inches of snow brought the District to a halt. It also was the week of the Students for Liberty’s(SFL) third annual conference, which – despite the weather-related obstacles – attracted more than 300 liberty loving participants. This is an encouraging sign of distaste for the leftist dogma that chokes free thought on too many university campuses. In three years, SFL has organized a unified, student-driven network of pro-liberty campus groups that promote economic, social, and academic freedom at over 150 universities.
From the Objectivist Club at UC-Berkeley to the Harvard Libertarian Forum, the College Republicans at University of Chicago to the Austrian Economics Club at Missouri – SFL does not dictate the foundations upon which groups justify their belief in freedom. Rather, they welcome the diversity of justifications for individual liberty. It is providing an alternative to the statist din that permeates dorms, classrooms, student unions, and campus rallies. Students For Liberty is coming off a very successful 2009 and will continue to foster that energy in 2010 with help from Atlas’s North American support program and the Think Tank MBA program.
In February, SFL entered the judicial realm by joining the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) by filing an amicus brief for the Supreme Court case Christian Legal Society v. Martinez. The brief argues in favor of the Christian Legal Society’s (CLS) right to freedom of association, which includes the right to limit voting membership to individuals who endorse the organization’s core beliefs.
In the past year SFL has established a solid Executive Board of students from ten different universities and a Board of Advisors that includes economists Tyler Cowen (GMU) and Eugene Volokh (UCLA), director of the Foundation for Economic Education director Lawrence Reed, Cato Institute vice president David Boaz, and historian Alan Charles Kors (University of Pennsylvania). This leadership ensures that SFL will remain a driving force for liberty on American campuses. The organization has also launched the Campus Coordinator Program that will facilitate ground support for students by training future leaders of liberty-oriented student groups in order to institutionalize the cause for the free society after they graduate.
Studies find that Generation Y and the ‘Millenials’ are much less critical of government than their parent’s generations. In one of the most hostile climates for the ideas of individual liberty, SFL is braving the storm to strengthen the free society for future generations.
To help defeat the economic fallacies floating about college campuses, SFL has partnered with Atlas to introduce the 19th century French political scientist, Frédéric Bastiat, and launch the Bastiat Project- a multi-faceted effort that includes the production of the book, The Economics of Freedom: What Your Professors Won’t Tell You, for mass distribution, an essay contest, and more.