Hope College’s newly created Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) chapter held its debut event outside of Phelps Dining Hall from 8 to 9 a.m. Carter Masek (’19), Matt Middleton (’21), Jake Williams (’19) and Luke Stehney (’19) handed out pocket constitutions, stickers, flyers and pins to educate passing students on the 16th anniversary of the USA Patriot Act and promote a greater understanding of the Fourth Amendment, which granted citizens the right of unreasonable search and seizures.
The USA Patriot Act, or the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, was enacted by the Bush Administration after the attacks of 9/11. After signing the act into place, President Bush said that, “Patriot Act closed dangerous gaps in America’s law enforcement and intelligence capabilities, gaps the terrorists exploited when they attacked us on September 11.” Following the USA Patriot Act, Obama signed the USA Freedom Act, which reformed some parts of the original act that had been set to expire.
The new student group is a chapter of the national YAL organization which was created at the end of Congressman Ron Paul’s presidential campaign in 2008.
In a recent interview, Masek explained that the new group “believes that small government and limited government interference in our lives is a positive thing.” Although the group is not affiliated with the Libertarian Party, which is Mr. Paul’s political party, they uphold similar values of limited government and individual liberty. Masek emphasized that the group is open to people of all political party alliances.
He went on to say that this openness to diverse political opinion creates “such a unique group” that will “thrive here at Hope.” Although the Hope chapter is still in the process of becoming officially recognized by the school, the national YAL organization is well established in over 900 chapters and 308,927 youth activists nationwide.
Each YAL chapter is guided to increase membership and organize charitable giving while defending the constitution, promoting freedom, free speech and the Fourth Amendment. YAL also has a Legacy Society which allows generous donors to receive access to publicity goods, job and resume consultation, VIP invitations to the YAL Annual Awards and quarterly strategy calls with YAL President Cliff Maloney.
YAL held “Visualize the Debt” their largest event-to-date from March to April 2011. The event was created “to raise awareness of the magnitude of the U.S. national debt, federal deficits, entitlement and military spending, the Federal Reserve system and the current economic crisis.”
Chapters were called to visually display the debt on college campuses throughout the country. At the University of Colorado-Boulder, students created a giant debt clock in the middle of their quad.
At the event the YAL State Chair for Colorado at the time, McKayne Boedecker, said, “The burden of this debt falls upon the shoulders of our generation, so it’s time we actually do some- thing about it.”
In the future, the unofficial executive committee of the chapter in Masek, Middleton, Williams and Stehney, plan to seek events such as this to educate fellow students on the meaning and importance of liberty in their daily lives.
Many of the YAL events seem to stress education through physical representation much like the signs at the event last Thursday which posed questions about the extent to which students want the government interfering with their monetary transactions, text messages and emails. Masek noted that campus should look for many more liberty promoting events in the very near future. For those interested in getting involved, keep an eye out for upcoming events.