Years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to give a proper definition for the worlds ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative.’ I remember seriously asking myself, “Why would my parents support conservatives if they don’t care about poor people?” Public policy never made sense to me, so I brushed it off. Eventually, I was getting old enough to get more involved, so I decided to try to get a semblance of an idea of what conservatives and liberals believed. I watched leftist YouTube videos about “climate change,” welfare, social security, and socialized medicine, and didn’t doubt what they claimed was truth. Then I clicked on a Ben Shapiro video. I clicked on a Dennis Prager video. I clicked on a Jonah Goldberg video. I clicked on a Dinesh D’Souza video. These speakers challenged what I had believed to be true, and defended their points well. I didn’t know much about these men at the time, but I did know that they all stood before a blue banner emblazoned with the words “Young America’s Foundation.”
After learning a bit more about the Foundation and the work it does, I reached out. As it turned out, there were actually other students at UVA who thought like I was beginning to. This is not to say that there were a lot of conservative students, but there were conservatives, and they were in the University of Virginia Young Americans for Freedom Chapter. A year or so later, I’m the chairman of the chapter, supported by a fantastic executive board, and our membership numbers have quintupled. I was shocked at how, with just a little bit of effort at hanging posters and tabling, freedom-loving UVA students came out of the shadows to say “No, this university is not purely inhabited by leftist bullies.” Today the UVA Young Americans for Freedom are the ones carrying the torch of freedom and bringing diversity of thought to campus.
Our chapter cannot take all the credit for making its freedom footprint at UVA. The Young America’s Foundation was there to guide us when leftists defaced and slandered the statue of Thomas Jefferson, and helped us create a patriotic rally in response. They were there to train us at activism seminars and conferences. They were there to provide us with materials: Stickers, U.S. Constitutions, flags, t-shirts, you name it. More importantly, the Foundation was there to help us push back against the UVA administration when they would not recognize us as an official independent organization on grounds. With YAF providing us legal counsel and a good bit of press, the university administration backed down, and we can now officially take the fight for freedom to the forefront at UVA. If you are a student feeling that the voice of conservatism is not being heard at your school, do what I did. Reach out to the Young America’s Foundation and I guarantee that at the drop of a hat, the Foundation will give you the support they’ve given to me, my chapter, and countless conservative students nationwide.
Kevin McMahon is the chairman of the University of Virginia Young Americans for Freedom.