I was invited to speak at this weekend’s 2011 International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington D.C. This was my first experience as a speaker at a conference over 500. I found out fairly early on that nearly every state in the U.S. had registered, and that 25 countries were also registered. I met people from Romania, Australia, UK, Nigeria, and others that I am not currently remembering. The level of intellect of those in attendance was nothing short of stunning.
Students for Liberty is not at all what I thought it was; I figured it would be a bunch of Libertarians spouting off about how terrible government and bureaucracy is, and while there were some people that held these beliefs, this conference struck me as very similar to that of an SSDP conference. The political beliefs ranged from unsure independent to ultra libertarian, and everything in between. While many people debated politics for long periods of time, there tended to be one thing in common with everyone: everyone felt as though our liberties were being infringed upon.
Students for Liberty is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, which is what makes it so different from other Libertarian groups. They don’t support any specific policies, nor do they support Libertarian groups that are not non-profit. From my perspective, this is what makes SFL so important.
Alexander McCobin and Sloane Frost, two co-founders of Students for Liberty, did nothing but impress me with their level of commitment to the organization they founded. Both were top notch speakers that seem to have mastered the process of organizing and delegating, and in three years successfully turned their organization into the largest student-run, liberty-promoting group in existence.
The Stossel Show was filmed at the conference, where John Stossel made it clear that he had never seen a group of politically minded students similar to SFL in his years in the media. The energy in the crowd was nothing short of electric as students from around the world lined up to ask questions during the taping. Gary Johnson spoke about his perspective of politics which blew everyone away (apparently he vetoed more bills than anyone else in the country when he was in office). While he probably will not be President of the United States anytime soon, he is still running in 2012, which continues to garner more and more media attention.
In a nutshell, and in my opinion, Students for Liberty is the future of politics. There is not another group of such incredibly intelligent students in existence, and there is absolutely no way to stigmatize the organization. SSDP and SFL will continue to foster a collaborative relationship so that we can work together to help end the failed War on Drugs and advance the ideals of Liberty across the world.
Thanks to all those that took the time to get to know me; it was an honor for me to have the opportunity to share my story. I sincerely hope that it encourages more chapters of SSDP to start up, and more people to get involved in their local chapters. Only time can tell what will happen, but if anyone from Students for Liberty has any questions about SSDP or wants to get one started, I’d be happy to help where I can. My co-presenter, Stacia Cosner, is the Associate Director of SSDP and it is her job to help students start chapters. Her e-mail address is email@example.com. Check out the slides from our presentation on “Drug Policy Activism” here.