This past Saturday, students from all across the Midwest came to Michigan State University for the first Students For Liberty Regional Conference of 2012. The Michigan Regional Conference, which featured 8 speakers and attracted over 100 attendees, kicked off our Regional Conference season with a great success!

Student attendees were able to hear from a lineup of speakers that covered a variety of professional backgrounds and academic disciplines. The first speaker of the day was Mike Reitz, Executive Vice President of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a state-based think tank located in Midland, Michigan. Reitz opened the conference with an explanation of how think tanks create political change from outside the political system. Morning breakout sessions featured Dr. Ross Emmett of Michigan State University, who described the historical significance of early economist Richard Cantillon, and Harris Kenny of Reason Foundation, who explored privatization in Michigan. Afternoon breakout sessions featured Dr. James W. Lark III of the University of Virginia, who addressed “Challenges to Liberty”, as well as Peter Bonilla of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, who spoke of election-year violations of free speech rights on college campuses.

Our 2012 Regional Conferences feature a new speaker series partnership with the Institute for Humane Studies. At our Michigan Regional Conference, this speaker series consisted of Dr. Nicholas Snow, an economist at Ohio State University, and Dr. Kevin Vallier, a philosopher at Bowling Green State University. Congressman Justin Amash, a graduate of the University of Michigan, wrapped up the conference by explaining how he came to understand the ideas of a free society through the writings of F.A. Hayek and Frederic Bastiat.

In addition to our guest speakers, the Michigan Regional Conference included a student activism panel. This panel featured Students For Liberty Campus Coordinators Chance Stoodt, Elise Thompson, and Keara Vickers, who offered tips on student organizing. Audience members asked the panel about recruitment tactics, how to run a meeting, and dealing with university bureaucracies. Many students left the conference ready to further the cause of liberty at their university by taking advantage of Students For Liberty’s on-the-ground resources.

Student attendees spent as much time at the conference talking as they did listening. Students For Liberty Regional Conferences provide attendees with 3 free meals. During meals, students are able to chat with liberty-loving students from their region. In addition to meeting other students, attendees are able to meet representatives of our partner organizations, such as the Institute for Humane Studies. These conversations are great starting points for developing networking skills and identifying career opportunities within the liberty movement.

The student panel at the Michigan RC. From left to right: Chance Stoodt, Elise Thompson, and Keara Vickers.

As the Conference Director, I could not be more proud of my Campus Coordinator team who made the first Students For Liberty Regional Conference at Michigan State University such a great success. I would like to thank Elise Thompson, Ethan Davis, Keara Vickers, Nate Kelly, Chance Stoodt, Ian Gulley, Rebecca Anzini, and Christine-Marie Dixon for their fantastic work registering students for the conference and ensuring the conference ran smoothly. If you are interested in taking the next step with student activism by helping your peers start and develop new pro-liberty student groups, consider applying for the 2013-2014 Campus Coordinator Program when applications open later this year.

The Michigan Regional Conference was a huge success, but it was only the beginning of a big Regional Conference season. Throughout the next few weeks, Students For Liberty will host 14 more Regional Conferences all across the US. These conferences all offer great speakers, 3 free meals, and invaluable networking opportunities with liberty-loving peers and pro-liberty organizations. Register for a Students For Liberty Regional Conference near you today!