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We just wrapped up our annual leadership retreat and now seems like the perfect time to get to know the SFL Executive Board even better. The first video features returning Executive Board member Pericles Niarchos from Drexel University.

Andrew Kaluza is new to the Executive Board this year and attends University of Texas-San Antonio.

Keep an eye out for more Behind the Scenes of the SFL Executive Board!

Every year, SFL’s Executive Board and staff gathers for a week-long Leadership Retreat in DC.  The Executive Board and staff evaluates the past academic year to improve processes, and looks to the future for projects and programs to add.  Over 20 committed and passionate 20-somethings are making decisions and evaluating programs that will greatly impact the future of the liberty movement.

Look forward to more announcements as the Executive Board decides how SFL is going to allocate our resources for the coming year.  Rest assured that this next academic year is going to kick butt!

A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.

On May 28, 2011 five people were arrested on the outer edge of Washington DC. What was their crime? Silently dancing at the Jefferson Memorial. These individuals were peacefully protesting a recent ruling in a 2008 case that activists call “The Jefferson One”. In 2008 a young woman was arrested for silently dancing at the Jefferson Memorial to celebrate Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. She was not disrupting anyone, harmed nobody, and damaged no property. Any DC local can testify that there are plenty of people who cause larger disturbances on a regular basis on public property, but nonetheless U.S. District Judge John Bates ruled against the woman.

The protest on May 28 was peaceful, in fact it was completely silent and the individuals involved made every effort to avoid interfering with anyone else at the monument. The peace was not broken until a half dozen or so police officers arrived and proceeded to throw to the ground and handcuff anyone that was dancing.

While the issue of dancing in a public place may seem small and insignificant it is representative of the direction the government has continued to move in. Any act that is outside the approval of a government bureaucracy is met with force from law enforcement. Surely the protestors would be fine if they got the appropriate permits, asked permission of the right people, or were representing views that were more popular among the political elite, but they did not do these things and so they were stomped down and the Jefferson Memorial was closed.

The first amendment to the US Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” It does not say that the people need to ask permission to peacefully assemble, it states that peaceful assembly is a right, a right the state is supposed to protect, not hinder.

It is true that Congress did not make a law, but the National Park Service which manages the Jefferson Memorial was created by Congress. If Congress cannot make a law limiting peaceful assembly, then neither can an agency that they created. The courts may disagree but that does not make the decision correct.

Students have long been a driving force behind social change across the world and many times have stood up to long entrenched totalitarian rules. The current battle against the 1st Amendment pales when compared to the battles being fought for freedom across the Middle East but that does not mean we should stand idly by and let peaceful people protestors fall victim to a government that has moved beyond their proper role of “securing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. You cannot have life, liberty, or happiness if dissent is met with a truncheon and a taser.

If there is an issue on your campus that you need help protesting please apply for an SFL Protest Grant.

Information on another protest is available here.

The Bill of Rights Institute’s “A More Perfect Blog” is giving weekly accounts of the key actions and conversations of the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 in their Countdown to the Constitution.

Philadelphia – – Though 11 days late and still many members short, the Federal Convention finally secured the arrival of enough participants to begin discussing revisions to our Articles of Confederation. The Convention’s original slated start of May 14th saw only 2 delegations arrive in Philadelphia. Since then, 7 more delegations have completed their sojourns to the nation’s most populous city. By week’s end, 11 of the 12 participating state delegations will be in the city.

Electing a Convention Leadership

The first order of business addressed by the delegates was electing the Convention’s president. General George Washington of Virginia received unanimous support to fill the position. Mr. Robert Morris of Pennsylvania and Mr. John Rutledge of South Carolina initiated the push for Washington to be named president, though the blessing of Dr. Benjamin Franklin, the only delegate whose stature can equal Washington’s, surely helped secure the unanimous election.

After Washington’s election the delegates took up more menial tasks, such as the selection of Major William Jackson as Secretary and the creation of the Committee on Rules. Alexander Hamilton, Charles Pinckney, and George Wythe were the three delegates chosen to serve on the Committee on Rules. These members will propose baseline rules governing what delegates can and cannot do during the Convention.

The Rules Governing the Convention

The Committee on Rules will offer its proposal on the second day, May 28th. It will turn out that many of these rules will be procedural, though not all of them. At the suggestion of Pierce Butler, the Committee will consider additional rules—including one about publication of Convention proceedings. The issue of rules will finally be settled on the Conventions’ third day, with the members agreeing to keep secret the events of the Convention. With the rules agreed to, the delegates will pursue settling main business.

Randolph’s 15 Resolutions – The Virginia Plan

Having arrived in Philadelphia 2 weeks prior, the Virginia delegation was prepared to drive the Convention’s agenda. Virginia’s Governor, Edmund Randolph, staked out a position that some delegates saw as radical, arguing that the Convention should begin not by reviewing the Articles of Confederation, but by inquiring first “into the properties, which [a federal] government ought to possess.” He then presented a list of 15 resolutions, the major effect of which was to propose a national government superior in power to the state governments – including giving the national legislature power to veto state laws, and to use force to coerce the states to fulfill their duties to the national government.

When the Convention re-convened on May 30, chaos erupted. Not only would the Committee of the Whole not vote on Randolph’s resolutions, they would not vote on a series of 3 propositions stating, 1) that a confederation would not accomplish the objects of promoting the common defense, protection of liberty, and the general welfare; 2) that treaties among the states would not promote those objects; and 3) that a national government consisting of a supreme Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branch should be established. Some feared that Randolph’s proposal would abolish the state governments altogether. Others thought such a proposal exceeded the powers of the Convention. Six state delegations accepted the third proposition, and the Convention proceeded to another thorny debate – about how representatives to the national Legislature should be apportioned.

Originally posted here. Learn more about the Bill of Rights Institute by visiting their website.
Olumayowa Okediran is the Outreach Assistant for African Liberty Students’ Organization.

I am very excited about the rapid spread of classical liberal thought on campuses across Africa. African students are beginning to figure out ways to wrest their freedoms away from the hands of irrationally powerful governments.  The fight for freedom on African campuses has seen such a huge increase this past year. We have waited long for this…

This year, the continent has witnessed several protests in reaction to despotic regimes: Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya.  All African states saw common men speak out in defense of their freedoms. African students have joined in the battle too, but in a non-violent manner.

The African Liberty Students Organization (ALSO), the student arm of African Liberty, is advancing freedom on African campuses and peacefully contributing to the struggle for freedom by promoting the philosophy of libertarianism.

ALSO was established just about a year ago, after AfricanLiberty.org’s Director of Outreach, Adedayo Thomas, reached out to students at the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (UNAAB), Nigeria.  The group began with just a handful of students interested in the study of liberty, but ALSO now has several chapters and budding chapters across the continent. These students organize periodical seminars and group discussions on free markets, individual sovereignty, globalization and the rule of law.

Works of several authors and thinkers such as Frederic Bastiat’s Selected Essays on Political Economy, Johan Norberg’s In Defense of Global Capitalism, Adedayo Thomas’s theatrical adaptation of Ken Schooland’s novel Adventures of Jonathan Gullible and Ayn Rand’s tomes have been made popular by ALSO. Members form study groups and organize seminars centered on the study of liberty.  These books, and several other titles, are available in ALSO’s libraries and are provided free to students interested in understanding the workings of a free society.  Of all the authors, Bastiat seems to be the local favorite. His clarity and practical solutions provide powerful ideas for solving Africa’s numerous challenges.

In the last year, ALSO chapters have organized several events and have hosted other and often more distant libertarian speakers like Ross Kenyon of Alumni For Liberty, Astrid Campos and Glenn Cripe, both of the Language of Liberty Institute.

The Advocates For Self Government’s World’s Smallest Political Quiz has assisted ALSO in its outreach activity by helping potential members find their place on the political map.  Its game-like approach provides an interactive avenue to reach out to students on campus.

Cumulatively, about 600 students have attended meetings, seminars, workshops and picnics organized by the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta chapter alone. The University of Dodoma chapter in Tanzania has also recorded about 200 students at its events. Many of these students end up endorsing libertarian ideals.

Members of ALSO have also taken the fight for freedom to student government in the hope of introducing the idea of limited government regarding the way campus student bodies are run. The past few days have seen a sort of fiesta among ALSO UNAAB members since colleague and co-vice president at ALSO UNAAB, Ms. Sakirat Lawal, won at the elections as vice-president of Students Union Government at the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. The beauty of her victory is that her manifesto was based on limited government. This is quite a rare feat to accomplish in a political environment driven by collectivist and statist ideals.

ALSO is spreading like wild fire along with libertarian ideals. African campuses are being set ablaze with students passionate about the study and promotion of liberty.