Duke YAL kicked off the year this past Thursday with it's highly-anticipated LIBERTYFest. The event was a huge success! I hope it will serve as a springboard into a fruitful year full of thoughtful activism, leadership and Liberty education for our chapter.
We began the evening with a “Free Speech Ball” event with two giant beach balls at the ready. It was an exemplary exercise of our First Amendment rights. We talked to many students about restrictions on free speech at Duke, especially regarding our new “safe space” that was just instituted at the Sanford School of Public Policy. Students had overwhelmingly positive attitudes about free speech. To our pleasure, the speech that was written on the balls tended this time to be very positive and constructive, rather than gratuitously offensive, which was our experience last time. At points in the evening, we had huge crowds at the bus stop around the balls reading it, some signing it. I would like to say we made an impact on a very large number of students that evening. This is always the goal!
After the free speech event, we held our first chapter meeting. We began the meeting with an introduction to what YAL is all about. We then proceeded directly into officer elections. We had no trouble whatsoever filling a great team of officers! I, myself, will be stepping down as President. Hunter Michielson will take over as President with a fantastic team of new officers: Nikhil Sridhar (Executive Vice President), Dane Burkholder (Junior Member at Large), Hans Riess (Senior Member at Large), Trevor Stevenson (Treasurer), Aditya Paruchuri (Secretary), Andrew Bates (VP Activism), Karl Harrison (Asst. VP Activism), Valedie Oray (VP Recruitment), Veronica Yuzuik (VP Outreach), Audrey Kornkven (Asst. VP Outreach), and Levi Parker (Fundraising Chair). I am so excited for the great potential these young liberty warriors have for our chapter!
We ended the meeting with a 2016 Presidential Caucus. The purpose of this exercise was to see how our members aligned with the current presidential candidates. It was not in any way shape or form an endorsement of any one candidate by our chapter. Donald Trump had the most votes, although just one vote ahead of Gary Johnson. There was one vote for Hilary Clinton as well as one vote for Ted Cruz.
We culminated the night with a Free Market themed social that was also huge success. Throughout LIBERTYFest we saw many different an new faces at each of the events, but I think it was for the better since we gave more students the opportunity to come to at least one event.
This is my last post as the President of Duke YAL. As much as I hate to give up my role as President, I know that will be best for the chapter to hand over the reigns to younger students. I have been working really hard the past four weeks meeting freshmen students who love liberty. I cannot express my happiness that we have found a fantastic group of students to take over the chapter. That being said, I still intend to be involved in the chapter as much as the new leadership needs/wants my help. I am grateful to everyone who got me connected with YAL, most especially the former NC State Chair Chris Nosko and our regional director Lydia Schwertfeger.