The Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), the nation’s largest libertarian student-led activist organization, recently hosted their regional convention in Austin, Texas, from Friday, Sept. 6, to Sunday, Sept. 8. This year’s attendees included Travis Kieff ([email protected]uno.edu), rising junior, mechanical engineering major, and President of UNO’s YAL chapter. Guests for YALCON Austin 2019 included, among others, Ron Paul, author, libertarian, and retired politician; Nick Freitas, Republican politician from the Virginia House of Delegates; Chip Roy, Republican representative for Texas’s 21st congressional district; and Dave Rubin, a self-identified classical liberal, political commentator and YouTube personality.
Kieff, who has headed the local chapter for the past year, expressed interest in attending the convention to develop a closer working relationship with other YAL members in the Great Plains region and to converse with leaders of non-profit organizations or interest groups focusing on different intellectual and social issues. The convention, held in the Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol, featured discussion tables by a number of such organizations, including the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), conservative Christian Foundation devoted to, according to their official site, “religious freedom, sanctity of life, [and] marriage and [the] family”; the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting free speech rights on college campus around the country; and the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank focusing on domestic economic and political issues.
“Because we’re still a newer group on campus,” Kieff explained, elaborating on his position as President, “it’s mainly been a process of figuring out how to do things; thankfully the Executive Board has been graciously helpful.”
Though Kieff laments that his major doesn’t tie in well to his political activities, he emphasized the excitement with which he met Great Plains Regional Director Ian Brennan and networked with other student activists, attending even a live taping of Dave Rubin’s “The Rubin Report,” a politically themed talk show broadcast regularly to Rubin’s official YouTube channel.
The convention also motioned Kieff to discuss upcoming events for the UNO chapter with other members. Events for the fall 2019 semester include Constitution Day, Sept. 17, in which pocket-sized copies of the US Constitution are handed out to students and discussed at a public table, and “Change My Mind” open discussion tables on the following topics: the First Amendment, the Second Amendment and the Electoral College.
“I want to make it easy for [UNO] students to disagree on these things,” Kieff expressed, “to dissuade them from hiding their political views.”
In addition, Kieff hopes to increase membership in the local chapter and participate in YAL’s second annual “Operation: Win at the Door” campaign, in which members of the organization knock on doors in their local neighborhoods, engaging with voters directly, to sponsor a candidate of their choosing. YAL has stated its goal for this campaign is “to elect 250 legislators who share [their] commitment to liberty by the end of 2022.” Last year the group secured 39 of those 250 legislators in 14 states.
Though all members attending YALCON are by invitation only and require prior registration, registering as a member for life, Kieff reassured, only takes a few moments and costs no more than $10. Please contact Kieff or campus advisor David Manry ([email protected]) for information on upcoming meetings.