On a warm September night early this semester, I nervously sat in front of a sparse crowd in 263 Dwinelle Hall. It was the first general meeting of Students for Liberty, a new freedom-oriented political club at Cal, and I was the president. Weeks of preparation had built up to that moment. From hours of tabling on Sproul Plaza to sending countless emails, my friends and I had tried to spread the news of the formation of our new club across campus. As the time to start the meeting came closer, more and more students came trickling in. By the start of the meeting, we had nearly a full classroom of about twenty, and by the end, my dream of starting a liberty-oriented club at Cal had come to life. Students for Liberty was born.
Students for Liberty traces its origins back to my first semester at Cal. In January 2009, I entered Cal as a bright-eyed spring-admit freshman. However, as I strolled around Sproul looking for a good club to join, I was disappointed at the lack of a libertarian group on campus. After making friends with Ashok Krishna, the current vice president of the club, we realized that it was our destiny to fill in the void. When a graduate student acquaintance of ours, John Wyrwas, told us he was also considering starting a freedom oriented club, we jumped on board. And thus, Students for Liberty came to life.
So what exactly is Students for Liberty? We are a non-partisan political group dedicated to promoting the ideas of limited government, free markets, sound money, non-intervention, and maximum individual liberty to campus and the surrounding community. We do not have any official affiliation with any political party, special interest group, or school of thought. We are rather a group of freethinking individuals who are dedicated to the cause of limited government. Although most members of the club identify themselves as libertarian, we welcome anyone who believes in restoring freedom to the people.
I am happy to say that our first semester has been a great success. We held regular meetings every Wednesday where we discussed current issues, usually ending in a social trip to Top Dog (Berkeley’s most politically sensible food joint). We tabled on Sproul at least two times every week, often engaging in political or philosophical debate, which sometimes even drew a crowd. We had three different speakers come to lecture during this semester. Professor Mark Brady of San Jose State University gave a talk entitled “Why Be a Libertarian?” in which he discussed why freedom is the most logical political philosophy. Dr. Michael Edelstein, clinical psychologist and author of the award-winning book Three Minute Therapy, gave a lecture entitled “How to Stay Happy in a Statist World” in which he discussed techniques to stay sane in an insane world. Lastly, Anthony Gregory, editor in-chief of Campaign for Liberty (Dr. Ron Paul’s official advocacy group), spoke to the club about business cycles and the Federal Reserve. We also had a debate with Berkeley College Republicans on drug and prostitution policy. The Daily Californian also asked for our club’s perspective on healthcare, which resulted in an op-ed being published. In short, we had a very busy and very exciting semester, and our plans for next spring are just as action-packed.
Next semester, we plan to target some bigger name speakers to come speak to the club. Patri Friedman, the grandson of respected economist Milton Friedman, has confirmed that he would like to speak to the club about the Seasteading Institute that he works for. Kevin Takanaga, Chairman of California’s Libertarian Party, has expressed interest in giving a talk to the club. Lastly, John Dennis, Republican candidate for San Francisco’s congressional district has also expressed interest in speaking to the club, possibly in a joint event with Berkeley College Republicans. Next semester, the club also plans to hold several debates against various political clubs on campus, maybe with Cal Berkeley Democrats or one of the many socialist organizations. We are also considering holding a legalize marijuana rally on Sproul Plaza. It is going to be a very exciting spring!
One would not think that a libertarian club on an infamously liberal campus would be very successful. Well, I am proud to say that the movement for freedom is alive and well in Berkeley. From my experience of tabling on Sproul Plaza, I have seen in the faces of people who come up to our table their apathy with the current political system and their yearning for freedom. Indeed, the fight for greater liberty is alive in Berkeley, and our club plans to be on the front lines.