Donald Trump

“Donald J. Trump’s win upset many college students across the nation.” (Courtesy of Ninian Reid via Flickr Creative Commons)

Donald J. Trump’s win upset many college students across the nation, leading to classes being called off, students walking out of their classes in protest and colleges creating more safe spaces. Fortunately, College of Charleston did not follow the trend of coddling students or intolerance towards differing views. Despite that the college would be rated by FIRE as “red light” based on their policy review, which means the school has at least one policy that is not in line with the First Amendment, the College maintained itself as a place of higher learning, where students freely exchange their ideas regardless of how controversial they may be.

No incidents of suppressed speech took place on campus until November 15th, when Glenn F. McConnell, the President of the College, emailed students and faculty members reminding them that in the aftermath of the elections, “it is our duty as Americans and members of the College of Charleston to treat each other with kindness and empathy. No matter the political divide, we must always be tolerant of each other’s views.” However, he added, “Hateful speech and actions will not be tolerated at the College.” The issue here is how vague the term “hateful speech” is, since it holds a subjective meaning. Further, much of what people consider “hateful speech” is generally protected.


The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a non-profit group founded in 1999 that focuses on civil liberties in academia in the United States. (Courtesy of FIRE)

Public universities, which includes the College of Charleston, must abide by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects free speech that includes, “certain offensive words and phrases to convey political messages, according to Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971). For example, messages like “Trump 2016″ that were written in chalk on Emory University’s campus were viewed as “hateful speech” by some students, but regardless of how they feel about it, the chalk message is protected under the First Amendment. Universities should only intervene when speech is a form of harassment, or “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive, and that so undermines and detracts from the victims’ educational experience, that the victim-students are effectively denied equal access to an institution’s resources and opportunities.”

"The College has always maintained a culture that invites ideas from all spectrums." (Courtesy of Mogollon via Flickr Creative Commons)

“The College has always maintained a culture that invites ideas from all spectrums.” (Courtesy of Mogollon via Flickr Creative Commons)

Although I commend President McConnell for reminding students “to treat each other with kindness and empathy” and “always be tolerant of each other’s views,” he had it wrong when he said “hateful speech” should not be tolerated, especially when the term is too broad and can easily label an expression that is not “hateful” in nature. To advance free speech on campus, we must embrace all ideas and viewpoints, even those that are controversial. It is the diversity in thought that will mold students to become mature intellectuals that are well prepared for the real world after graduation.

Even at the height of the political unrest that stems from the elections, the College has always maintained a culture that invites ideas from all spectrums and allows students to engage in free expression through classroom discussions and civil discourse with fellow peers. Let us replace our notion of “hateful speech,” which is too subjective and broad, with a principled commitment to “freedom of expression.”

This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions. If you’re a student interested in presenting your perspective on this blog, visit our guest submissions page

Screen Shot 2016-10-24 at 12.37.24 AM

Searching for an opportunity to learn about Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and meet other like-minded individuals? Look no further because the Ayn Rand Institute is hosting the 2016 Ayn Rand Student Conference, “Live Free and Thrive,” in Atlanta, Georgia from November 4th to 6th!Atlanta

Thus far, 150 student attendees have registered for the conference, and the Institute hopes to have few more budding scholars, like you, to spend a weekend in the beautiful city of Atlanta to explore Rand’s philosophy.

Although the registration page shows that the deadline to apply has passed, the Institute is still open for applications until they exhaust their scholarship funds, which cover the entire attendance cost (registration fee, travel, and lodging). If you wish to apply, please do so pronto! We hope to see you there.

Questions about the conference? Email Krissy Keys at kkeys@aynrand.org.

According to CNN, Hurricane Matthew is the “strongest storm to hit the U.S. in over a decade” and caused a death toll nearing 900 in Haiti. Seeing how life-threatening Hurricane Matthew is, South Carolina imposed mandates to make evacuation more efficient and to ensure people’s safety, such as lane reversal of 1-26 eastbound and state-mandated curfew. Although the state passed these regulations with good intent, the one mandate that was misguided was price controls — states controlling the costs on commodities, such as gas, water, and even hotel rooms, rather than allowing markets to naturally make the call on the costs.

Price gouging is a natural, market mechanism that increases the cost of goods to reflect consumers’ high demand for them, and resources are then allotted to those who need them the most. By surging the price of commodities, products will not fall to shortages and will remain abundant for purchase.

But some do not grasp this. According to South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, “[…] we will see many neighbors helping each other during this delicate time. However, we may also see some looking to unfairly take advantage of the situation through price gouging of food, gasoline, lodging, water and any other commodities as defined by the statute. Pursuant to state law, price gouging constitutes a criminal violation and an unfair trade practice.”

Businesses are not “looking to unfairly take advantage of situation through price gouging.” In fact, businesses are creating an ideal situation by allowing costs to adjust to fit the demand. That way, people can survey their options and decide whether or not to make a voluntary purchase. When government manipulates costs, consumers would not even have the opportunity to explore their choices as resources remain scarce.

If the state imposes price-fixing legislation, people will experience shortages. When Governor Nikki Haley announced the state of emergency for Charlestonians to evacuate from Hurricane Matthew, residents rushed to grocery stores and gas stations to stock up on food and gas in order to be prepared. However, because of the price-fixing statute in effect, many – including myself – found empty shelves at grocery stores and long lines at gas stations since people eventually exhausted all available resources at the fixed price. That is why price gouging is absolutely necessary to not hurt consumers.

Look at the example of Florida in preparation for Hurricane Matthew. According to Tricia Beck-Peter, “[w]hen the price of a product, such as a generator, rises, there are fewer buyers. This reserves stores of these generators for those who need them most. The higher price would discourage those seeking the generator for frivolities – to update their Facebook statuses with pictures of their hurricane parties, perhaps.” Furthermore, “[h]igh prices incentivize conservation of resources for those most in need, and incentivize more people to transport goods to affected areas for sale.”

People should not be so quick to assume businesses that surge costs are scummy because entrepreneurs are incentivized to coordinate resources in socially beneficial ways. When prices reflect demand, goods are fairly allocated to buyers, while resources still remain plentiful. That is why price gouging is so extraordinary: it doesn’t harm consumers, but protects them. If we take a step back and realize the benefits this pricing mechanism produces, then we may begin to appreciate the spontaneous workings of a free market economy, which our current economic framework should strive toward.

This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions. If you’re a student interested in presenting your perspective on this blog, visit our guest submissions page

STRIVE of College of Charleston hosted their kick-off event, “Ayn Rand’s Philosophy: What Is & What Isn’t”, to dispel misconceptions about Objectivism. Our club will delve into Rand’s systematic philosophy more in upcoming meetings and events, so we saw fit to clear away the common misunderstandings perpetuated by the media and naysayers.

Dr. Aaron Smith, the instructor for Ayn Rand Institute’s Objectivist Academic Center and Summer Internship, Skyped in and debunked well-known misbeliefs about Rand’s ideas, ranging from being a prescription for elitism to pursuing selfishness by means of infringing on people’s rights – neither of which are tenants of Objectivism.


Dr. Aaron Smith speaking to STRIVE about Objectivism.

Objectivism is fundamentally a philosophy that stands for using the faculty of the mind and embraces the three pillars of purpose, reason, and self-esteem. As Dr. Smith explained, “Ayn Rand is an advocate of reason. […] She doesn’t stand for hedonism. Values are based on things that are life-sustaining.”

Students were captivated and inquired more about Rand’s philosophy during the Q&A, asking for the Objectivist perspective on issues such as entitlement and environmental alarmism, all of which Dr. Smith addressed effectively.

Free copies of Ayn Rand’s fiction and nonfiction were made available after the event, and students quickly got their hands on them for their own independent study. I’m proud to say my event, in the spirit of Rand’s philosophy of rational happiness, engaged students’ rational faculties, and STRIVE continues to reach out with the purpose of changing students’ lives for the better.

With much gratitude, this event would not have been made possible without the activism grant provided by Students For Liberty. The generous funds covered advertising resources, tabling materials, computer accessories, and pizza and drinks for the meeting. To obtain the grant for your student organization and host an event as successful as mine, apply here.

The Syrian refugee crisis is often considered the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II and, with migration this large, the European Union has had to quickly find solutions to handle a dislocation of 6.6 million people in a short amount of time.

image00The United Nations has pled for countries around the world to accept refugees to expedite this issue. But, as of November 2015, the United States had admitted only 1,854 Syrian refugees, few of which settled in South Carolina. Despite the voluntary assistance efforts made by a few, closing off borders is a popular view that recently found itself expressed in a bill passed by South Carolina’s state Senate which set limits for refugees coming into the state.

With Students For Liberty’s #ShareHumanity grant, STRIVE of College of Charleston worked to combat these oppressive thoughts in South Carolina by inviting Dr. Michael Huemer from the University of Colorado – Boulder to Skype in and argue for free migration at STRIVE’s “Open Borders and Refugee Acceptance” event.

It attracted students of varying knowledge and interest in politics, and they came away knowing more about refugees’ and immigrants’ right to migrate and the positive results that immigrants have on the economy. Events like these help to increase awareness and debunk unpleasant myths people have about refugees and immigrants, and STRIVE of College of Charleston – with the help of Students For Liberty – continues to promote limited government and economic freedom by carrying out such political activism on campus.