The last two Fridays, the YAL chapter at Western Michigan University was out in full force to celebrate free speech on campus. The first quote that we as a chapter wrote on the ball was, “You only believe in free speech if you believe in free speech for those you disagree with.” With this mantra, we enticed many fellow students to ask about the principles that we stand for as a liberty minded organization.
This event was popular with more people than we ever expected. We had productive conversations with people from all over the political spectrum. Two fellows campaigning for Hillary Clinton were excited that we were out advocating for freedom of speech, and we talked at length about our political differences. Disenfranchised Bernie supporters were more than happy to voice their political anger on the ball, and Trump supporters used many hashtags. Libertarian leaning students used the ball to talk about the failing drug war, foreign intervention, and taxes. Despite all of our differences, they all left with a handshake and a smile, a trend that was consistent throughout the entire day.
Quite a few people asked us if they were allowed to curse or allowed to say something offensive on the ball – to which we chorused, “of course!” The shocked and then elated expressions on students’ faces as they were met with the realization of the broadness of free speech were truly spectacular to witness.