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The following post by Jan Škapa is from SFL’s 2015-2016 Annual Report.

In March, the 5th Annual European Students For Liberty Conference (ESFLC) welcomed a total of 908 participants passionate about the ideas of liberty at the Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. It was the biggest gathering of young minds to date in Europe who will shape the future of our society in pursuit of a freer future.ESFLC_AR_Photo

The conference was organized by about 100 students who prepared three days of lectures, interactive sessions, workshops, outings, and much more. The event touched on topics like economic freedom, civil liberties, and entrepreneurship, with over 60 speakers. The theme of the conference was “Students We Should Remember.” On Friday, the conference keynote was delivered by Lawrence Reed of the Foundation for Economic Education, who told the crowd many stories of past heroes of liberty and why we need more in the future.

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240 years ago today, in the midst of the American Revolutionary War,  one of the greatest and most inspired documents of all time was adopted by the United States Congress: The Declaration of Independence. It hardly requires an introduction, being one of the most well-known statements on human rights. The English philosopher John Locke is usually recognized as one of the biggest influences on the language that the Declaration uses, and it’s hard to miss the connection when you know about Locke’s idea that we have natural rights, namely life, liberty, and property.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

These words are monumentally bold—to declare that all men are equal, and what’s more, to say that to a king, whose very status is deeply rooted in inequality. The Declaration’s words echo through time, igniting a flame in the breast of millions of people. This flame is the flame of liberty, the flame which has breathed life into the peoples of nations all around the world–whether their countries are founded on liberal democratic principles or not. As inheritors of the flame, it is our duty to ensure its survival. And make no mistake, this flame will be extinguished if there are no torchbearers. The fight is never over, so we must never hide, and never rest.

On this day, as on all days, keep the flame of liberty alive. Have a happy Fourth of July!

 

NoNanny Chocolat eIt’s time for us to take a stand. As a Canadian myself, I witness the over-reaching nanny state here in Canada everyday. Today, I want to give you an opportunity to join me in pushing back against over-regulation.

Myself and other SFLers are going to be on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday May 31st to mock the growing number of nanny state regulations in Canada and we would love for you to join us! We plan on starting at 9:00am.

If you interested in helping educate people on Parliament Hill and taking a stand against the ever-growing nanny state, simply email me at dclement@studentsforliberty.org. 

Also, if you are in need of travel assistance to get to Ottawa, please let me know!

The following was written by incoming UVA Campus Coordinator Evan Davis. 

Evan received the $75 activism grant used for this event for applying early to the CC Program. If you’re interested in applying, we’re still accepting late applications until Monday, May 9th. Apply today!

Incarceration Nation turned out to be one of the most successful events we have put on so far this year at UVA!

During the day, we tabled on the lawn (UVA’s version of a “quad” at most universities). We had people take pictures holding up fake jail cell bars (see on the left in the picture below), introduced people to criminal justice reform, and spread awareness about the panel in the evening. We had four speakers at the event, including a professor at UVA, a Generation Opportunity leader, and a representative from the Charles Koch Institute. Each provided valuable insight about what’s wrong with the current system, and potential solutions. One of the leaders in our club at UVA, Grace Charlton, asked open-ended questions to the panelists, and then opened it up to the audience for questions. Lots of the questions showed a good deal of interest in the topic. The food helped attract people to the event and made it a more enjoyable experience overall.

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As it turned out, about 90 people showed up to the event to watch the speakers talk about reform. Also, I think it is safe to say that everyone was interested; while at the start many had laptops out or were checking their phones, by the end everyone looked engaged and was giving their undivided attention to the panelists. This alone may not cause any change right now, but spreading awareness and getting people thinking about this important issue is the first step to making real, significant impacts later on.Incarceration Nation at UVA

 

The following was written by a member of SFL’s network who has asked to remain anonymous. 

Click here to get involved with the push for free speech on campus and receive a grant of up to $250 for any pro-speech activism you can imagine. 

University authorities in my native country hardly encourage students to discuss innovative ideas like the free market, limited government, and entrepreneurship. After all, public universities are controlled by the one-party dictatorship and the atmosphere is quite static. free speech under fireMoreover, the majority of the students are not interested in these courses and the “good” students are only interested in exam marks. Although they are labeled good students, they only want to obtain good grades so they may pursue additional degrees. When you try to talk with them about John Locke or property rights, for example, they don’t care.

I also have friends in the “top” universities where the problem persists. These students too do not have an understanding of the free market, economics, limited government, or classical liberal ideas. The students who are more interested in entrepreneurship likely have already escaped from the ivory towers, but I doubt that these individuals are familiar with classical liberalism either.  

Still, I can access the university libraries and find books written by Hayek and Friedman for my personal study. I also organized a small study group to discuss these topics, but I still could not understand the concept of liberty because the university system is still very centrally planned, maintains its totalitarian heritage, and contains secret police, usually comprised of students that receive a salary from the university to watch our actions silently. Once they discover that you are publicly against the Communist Party, you may not be able to graduate successfully or you may be threatened in other ways.

When we organized our study group of students hoping to better understand the social sciences, some of the students took to the streets and participated in a protest, but the secret police caught them. The police then went to their homes, searched their computers, and locked these young people in the police station for one or two weeks in secret and without a news report. Some of them were asked, “Did you get the funds from an overseas organization?” The secret police did not let some of the students sleep while they were detained. We were frightened and the study group was shut down.

Letting people have the space and liberty to learn about the free market and classical liberalism will benefit all of our people, including the people from the Communist Party itself.