One of the highlights of the International Students For Liberty Conference is the Annual Awards Presentation. In 2009, Students For Liberty began to recognize outstanding students and student groups that distinguished themselves in the battle for liberty on campus. Award recipients are chosen based on their hard work, organizational skills, value creation, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
Today we are thrilled to announce the finalists for the 2010-2011 Students For Liberty Awards, listed in alphabetical order. The competition was close and we received many outstanding nominations, but these stood out as among the best in the world. Given the quality of the nominations, it is high praise to be a finalist.
This year we are holding open online voting for the finalists. The results of the online poll will be combined with a vote of the SFL Executive Board to determine the winners. You can vote once per day and voting will be open through early February at http://studentsforliberty.org/college/awards/.
Student of the Year
Giles Howard – Giles is the founder and President of the Publius Foundation, a student-run think tank in Pittsburgh that focuses on local issues. He directs the organization’s publishing to focus on both on-campus and citywide issues in the Pittsburgh area. Since the Foundation’s inception, he authored a range of policy briefings and daily commentaries on issues including Marcellus Shale, Second Amendment rights, privacy rights, campus radicalism, and tax policy.
A senior majoring in history at the University of Pittsburgh, Giles has a broad experience in campus organizing and student journalism. He served as editor-in-chief at two student publications and held editorial positions at two more over the last five years. Immediately prior to starting the Foundation, Giles wrote a weekly column in The Pitt News where he reached a daily audience of 14,000 people on the University of Pittsburgh’s main campus. In the past year he attended both FreedomFest on an SFL Scholarship and the State Policy Network Annual Meeting as a Generation Liberty Fellow.
Michelle Fields – Michelle is the president of the Pepperdine College Libertarians. She recruited new members to the group by tabling with an Operation Politically Homeless kit and distributing copies of The Economics of Freedom. During the TSA body scanner controversy she organized a group of students to protest outside LAX, informing travelers of their rights. Her group’s most noted accomplishment was the creation of a Free Speech Wall on campus where students could freely express their views at a school often hostile to open expression. A rogue student tore down the wall, which galvanized the campus community and brought groups like the College Republicans and College Democrats together to help re-build the wall.
She is an SFL Campus Coordinator and a primary organizer for the 2010 Southern California Students For Liberty Regional Conference, the first of its kind. She also attended FreedomFest and Libertopia, where she was interviewed by Reason.TV. Soon after that interview was released, she also appeared on Fox Business’s America’s Nightly Scoreboard to discuss the growth of the student movement for liberty.
Ross Kenyon – Ross is a member of the leadership team for the Arizona State Students For Liberty and a global activist for liberty. With ASU SFL, he organized and participated in events such as a policy forum with the College Republicans and Democrats. He also organized a “Mandatory Contributions” tax protest, where dorky IRS agents and sexy cops visited a block party to collect “mandatory donations” from unsuspecting passersby.
Ross was published in the 2010 SFL Journal of Liberty and Society, the Libertarian Standard, and a forthcoming Alliance of the Libertarian Left Journal. He has written for websites including the Christian Science Monitor, Students For Liberty (on left-libertarianism), The Center for a Stateless Society, and many others. Last summer he worked as a Koch Summer Fellow at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and is now an Assistant Editor at The Humble Libertarian and a Research Assistant for the C4SS. He has spent the last semester in Istanbul working with the 3H Movement to spread liberty in Turkey.
Stacy Litz – Stacy has helped grow the Drexel Student Liberty Front into a true force on campus, acting for the past year as president and now secretary. Under her leadership the group has hosted events on immigration, marijuana policy, and free speech; hosted a ‘V for Vendetta’ screening; and helped organize an End the Fed Rally. This past summer she organized an SLF Summer Retreat, where group members and local libertarians gathered to learn from lecturers, flyer for liberty on campus, and strategize for the upcoming year. She also founded a Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter at Drexel. Her efforts earned her the Student Leader of the Year award from Drexel University.
Off campus she takes on many roles within the liberty movement. Stacy is a Campus Coordinator for Students For Liberty, an intern at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (as well as FIRE Campus Freedom Network award winner), the Social Media Analyst for the Center for a Stateless Society, a writer for the Philadelphia Examiner, a volunteer for the Ladies of Liberty Alliance, and attended FreedomFest on an SFL Scholarship. She also runs Shaman Scents, her own agorist business.
Event of the Year
Kent State Liberty Alliance: Political Prisoners Protest – The Kent Student Liberty Alliance used a Students For Liberty Protest Grant to highlight the injustices that runs deep through our criminal justice system, building a mock jail cell on campus to draw attention to the issue. Historically Kent State has been a hotbed of political activism, but apathy has crept over these students as of late, except for the students of the Liberty Alliance who sat in mock prison cells all day despite the 40 degree temperatures.
The group used five victims of unjust incarceration to highlight their point: Marc Emery, a Canadian activist serving 5 years for selling marijuana seeds; Edward and Elaine Brown, an elderly NH couple serving 37 years for tax evasion (essentially a death sentence due to their age); Cirino Gonzalez, who was arrested for aiding and abetting the Browns when he lived with them while blogging about tax evasion; and Eric McDavid, who is serving 19 years for conspiracy. The Kent event sought to bring attention to this issue, and they succeeded. With a mock prison and guest speakers, including Gonzalez’s wife, the event was a huge success.
George Mason University Students For Liberty: Hyper-inflate our School Loans Out of Existence – The students of Mason Liberty came up with an ingenious idea to educate their fellow students on the danger of inflation while signing up new members. They set up a table and approached students on camera with a petition asking students to help hyperinflate our school loans out of existence so that students would not have to pay back their loans. The petition proposed increasing inflation by 50 percent every month for the next year. 9 out of 10 students signed the petition.
The petition had two purposes: one was to hand out copies of The Economics of Freedom, which breaks down common economic fallacies students often unfortunately fall for. The other was to make a video of the petition as means to help students understand that they need to be much more aware of the harmful public policies and regulations they support or do not reject. As Daniel Shiner stated in the ending statement of the video, “although our school loans would be inflated out of existence, so would the rest of society.”
Pepperdine College Libertarians: Free Speech Wall – The wall was a special project of the Pepperdine CLs to celebrate Constitution Day and spur discussion on campus. The project itself had a rocky beginning, and the group had to jump through many bureaucratic hoops in order to exercise free speech on a campus often hostile to open expression. The project was a tremendous success, but later in the week the wall was destroyed by sophomore student Joel Lopata. Lopata took it upon himself to protect the students of Pepperdine from anything that might be deemed controversial or offensive, in fact he described the wall as, “nameless, faceless and very cowardly.”
That act of destruction galvanized the campus community around the issue of free speech. The College Libertarians, College Republicans, Young Democrats, and Green Team started rebuilding the wall early the next morning. The event garnered significant media attention on campus and from national organizations such as FIRE, Reason.TV, and Bureaucrash. By the next morning it was larger than ever before.
University of Nevada-Reno Students for Liberty: Abolish the ASUN Festival – The UNR Students for Liberty finally grew tired of the wasteful status quo of their student government, the ASUN. So, they came up with a simple idea to fight back: show other students just how wasteful the student government is. The UNR SfL members mastered the bureaucracy so they could obtain as much funding as possible. Then in deciding what to spend it on, they asked themselves, in the words of UNR SfL member John Russell, “What are the most ridiculous things we can buy with other students’ money?”
The answer: a festival. Not just any festival, but an Abolish the ASUN festival. It would have pizza. It would have a bounce house. It would have a mechanical bull. And it would have ponies. Yes, ponies. They created a video documenting the planning process, and the event was covered by the local news.
University of Texas Libertarian Longhorns: John Lott & More Guns, Less Crime – On the morning of Tuesday, September 28, the University of Texas community was shocked by a gunman, later identified as UT student Colton Tooley. He walked down 21st street, shooting his weapon into the air and ground while yelling and screaming. He then entered a library and took his own life. Fortunately no one else was hurt in the process.
Coincidentally, the Libertarian Longhorns and the UT Students for Concealed Carry on Campus had invited Dr. John Lott, famed writer of the book “More Guns, Less Crime”, to speak on campus that same day. The event could no longer be held on campus, but due to the importance of the issue, the group leaders moved quickly to re-organize it. Local bookstore Brave New Books generously agreed to host the talk and extended their normal business hours to accommodate. The Libertarian Party of Texas assisted students by notifying media outlets and local groups that the event would continue at the new location.
The result was nothing short of phenomenal. At least 125 students and Austinites crammed into Brave New Books to hear John Lott speak about his research on the effects of gun control laws on violent crime. Television, radio, and newspaper outlets interviewed attendees and recorded footage of the event. Their response to the presentation was very positive.
Group of the Year
Dalhousie Liberty Society – The Dalhousie Liberty Society is promoting liberty on a new frontier in Halifax, Canada. Founding members of the Dalhousie Liberty Society were tired of trying to make subtle changes through partisan Conservative groups. They chose to start the Dalhousie Liberty Society to change the discourse on campus to one that included pro-liberty values along with the traditional socialist elite that dominated student politics. Targeting campus media, the system of society financing and the directions of the Dal Student Union, the Dal Liberty Society has been active in teaching students what it means to support liberty as well as its implications for student politics and beyond.
They launched the group this fall with Student Freedom Week, featuring tabling with Operation Politically Homeless and speaker events. Later in the year they screened Indoctrinate U and organized “Suck my Liberty”, a presentation/discussion on sexual freedom, prostitution, emancipation, and gay rights. They also launched public campaigns against their school’s food service monopoly and school funding for the Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group. On December 8th the DLS hosted a vigil for the lives lost under the tyrannical USSR regime, which ended on December 8, 1991.
East Carolina University Young Americans for Liberty – The ECU YAL stands out as a student group for being proactive in recruiting new members, raising awareness of liberty on campus, and hosting events. They work to promote liberty on their campus and wherever else they can.
On their campus they organized many educational events, such as a “Stop Spending our Futures” water bottle giveaway, an Education Drive featuring Dr. Beitler, Operation Politically Homeless tabling, a Constitution Day event, organized a marijuana march, hosted a V for Vendetta screening on Halloween, a nature trip to discuss environmentalism vs. property rights, and a GLBTSU Vigil emphasizing that gay rights are individual rights. Not just content to fight for liberty on their campus, they also helped out their fellow students at North Carolina State. When the NC State YAL group needed help gathering signatures to bring Ron Paul to campus, 3 ECU YAL leaders drove to Raleigh to help complete the drive and made it a success.
George Mason University Economics Society – The GMU Econ Society specializes in reaching out to students who are not already in the liberty movement by providing academic events for both advanced students and introductory students new to the ideas. They also provide students with opportunities to build their careers in liberty through career building weeks, internship information nights, and resume building workshops.
Some of their events include: a Health Care Debate with Bryan Caplan and David Balan from the FTC that drew in over 230 people, distributing The Economics of Freedom to incoming freshmen, co-hosting an event with the Atlas Foundation featuring Ian Vasquez from the Cato Institute on the economic transformation of Chile, hosting Dan Mitchell from the Cato Institute on tax competition, organizing an event on the Haitian earthquake disaster, designing and selling over 70 free market t-shirts, and far too many others to list. Their co-hosted speaker series with the Future of Freedom Foundation featured Larry White, Sheldon Richman, Richard Ebeling, Don Boudreaux, and Jeffrey Miron.
George Washington University Liberty Society – In just a year and a half, GW Liberty Society has become one of the, if not the most, active groups on GW’s campus. Not only has Liberty Society grown at an exponential rate, hosted dozens of events, and introduced the GW student body to the ideas of liberty, but they’ve also provided substantial support to other liberty-oriented student groups and think tanks alike.
In the past year they have hosted an incredibly diverse list of events: The Weiße Rose : the Freedom of Expression, Your Marriage and the State, Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad: Islam and the Free Market, Steve Davies: The History of the War on Drugs from 1906 to the Present, Tyler Cowen: Create Your Own Economy, Transform Americas: Chile as a Model for Economic Development, Misconceived Monuments Tour, Frederik Roeder: The European Student Liberty Movement, Nigel Ashford: Human Rights and the U.N., and Tom Bowden: It’s My Property – Or Is It?.
Liberty Society members also make an effort to attend the events of other pro-liberty student groups in the DC area, and several Liberty Society members have become interns and/or employees at pro-liberty non-profits and think-tanks. In the short time of the organization’s existence, it has developed procedures and a culture that will ensure the longevity of the organization for years to come.
University of California Berkeley Students for Liberty – The Cal Berkeley SfL thrives on one of the most statist campuses in the country. They table on campus four days a week to recruit new members and hold weekly meetings for discussion of various topics. They also maintain one of the most active student group websites, http://calsfl.com.
They hold many provocative events to stand out and appeal to a liberal community. Last spring they hosted libertarian activist Starchild on the struggle to decriminalize sex work. They also organized a 4/20 event with the SSDP chapter that was profiled by Bureaucrash. Recently they hosted a 4-Loko prohibition party to protest against a potential ban on the drink. They also take on the left by hosted events such as a debate with the College Democrats over gun rights.
This November they hosted the 1st annual Northern California Students For Liberty Conference, the first of its kind and a milestone for the region.