by Kevin McMahon, William & Berniece Grewcock Intern Scholar
When I graduate from the University of Virginia, I’ll be leaving UVA YAF in good hands. It’s any leader’s hope that what they accomplished will be carried forward by subsequent leaders, and I want to be able to, years from now, return to UVA and find UVA YAF better than I left it.
Unfortunately, many chapters don’t succeed in carrying the momentum of success forward. When I joined UVA YAF, it was merely a shell of the organization of three years prior. How did UVA YAF go from engaging in YAF’s activism projects and bringing Rick Santorum to campus to being just a handful of inactive members?
Sometimes chapters fall apart. Enthusiastic and bold conservative activists graduate and those who fill their shoes allow momentum to die out, as happened at UVA. But a lapse in activity doesn’t have to be the end, and it wasn’t the end for UVA YAF.
When two friends and I committed to reviving the YAF chapter at UVA, we learned our chapter’s status had been frozen by our school due to inactivity of previous chapter leadership. We had a lot of work to do.
The University of Virginia set up a maze of bureaucratic barriers, student government hoops to jump through, and administrative bias to overcome. As I learned, earning official recognition for your YAF chapter can sometimes take months.
One of the best things you can do while trudging through the process required to gain recognition is find allies in your student government or school administration. It’s up to you to find what you need to know, familiarize yourself with the bureaucratic processes, and make sure you’re being treated fairly by your school.
To get UVA YAF back up and running took time, work, and the threat of a lawsuit. As someone who’s been through it, I can say that it is worthwhile to put in the effort necessary to pass your YAF chapter on to the next class of leaders. I did, and now UVA YAF has more than quintupled its membership, made itself an institution at UVA, and has a bright future in the coming years.
I look forward to passing my chapter off to activists who I am confident will in turn leave UVA YAF in good hands so that I’m able to proudly tell others someday, “I’m an alumnus of UVA YAF.”