November 5, 2010

Second-year starts second campus libertarian group

Not even Atlas would shrug at the increased libertarian presence on campus this year.

Expanding the freedom of choice for campus libertarians, a new RSO plans to promote the cause of the Libertarian party without fighting an existing organization for members.

Created last month at the U of C, Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), is a new chapter of the nationally-affiliated libertarian network originally founded as Students for Ron Paul.

Second-year economics major Michael Marvin founded the chapter first week, when he realized that several of his I-House dorm members were also interested in libertarianism. The group will receive funding in addition to a chapter plan and applications to bring speakers to campus from the national YAL organization, Marvin said.

Students for a Free Society (SFS), a politically unaffiliated libertarian campus group, says its membership has doubled in the last year, to 20 members, even with the competition from YAL.

Marvin said he attended an SFS meet-and-greet and two meetings but felt the group, which focuses on libertarian values rather than a specific political party, wasn’t for him.

“I think it would be great to expose people to [the Libertarian Party]. It’s the fastest growing and biggest third party,” Marvin said. “Most people who don’t know what it is are surprised to find what it is. A lot of people might endorse it but they don’t know what it is yet.”

Marvin hopes YAL will expose people to the Libertarian Party, which, he said, “is the only political party that stands on principle with a firm philosophical stance.”

Though SFS president and third-year Bryant Jackson-Green hadn’t heard about the new YAL chapter, he wasn’t surprised to hear that more students were interested in libertarianism. “University of Chicago has always had a reputation for being libertarian, or just politically open-minded,” he said.

Both groups said they were open to collaboration. “If they happen to bring another group of libertarians to campus, that’s great. Different things for different people. There should be no tension,” Jackson-Greene said. “The more the merrier.”

He said the focus of his group is to get people talking to each other about the ideals of libertarianism. “We’re not trying to crank out libertarians here. It’s a process. We just want to start a dialogue.”

Marvin had a live and let-live mentality about the two groups too. “I don’t want to infringe on their property or anything. It’s better to have more than one libertarian club, it’s best to have options,” he said.

YAL’s adviser is law professor Todd Henderson, who drew fire this September for his blog post “We are the super rich,” in which he argued his household, which makes over $250,000 a year, couldn’t afford the tax hike Obama proposed for his tax bracket. Henderson is finishing the ORCSA paperwork in order to make it an official RSO.