Why We Don’t Need Any More "Political" Clubs on Campus The Skidmore News – Skidmore News

Posted: March 25, 2021 at 2:44 am

YAL. Most of our campus knows this group has been very prevalent in recent conversations amongst students. President Conner has even spoken up on the issue. I would like to give an unbiased explanation of who the Young Americans for Liberty are and why their presence on campus has been debated by students so much recently.

Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) is a political organization with chapters in colleges across the country. Their ideologies align with libertarian views, and they strongly preach the importance of free speech within the college environment. The libertarian mindset emphasizes the importance of constitutional rights and independence (think Ron Swanson, a fictional but very by-the-books libertarian figure that you can use as a reference). I am by no means an expert on libertarianism, and I will not try to explain the party further due to my lack of sufficient knowledge.

In theory, a club that promotes freedom of speech on campus can accommodate those who feel silenced in their communities and would like an outlet to express their opinions without judgment. In reality, however, this creates a space where students express views that are ultimately harmful to marginalized students existence. The club was introduced following a controversy on campus last fall involving a white student mocking the eyes of an Asian student as part of a TikTok trend called the Fox-Eye trend. Some students took sides on whether or not this was acceptable, creating division on campus. Some were adamantly opposed to the backlash the student faced, calling it cancel culture over what they deemed an act of accidental racism. Some became directly affiliated with and even gained leadership positions in YAL following the incident. This affiliation was the initial cause for outrage in many campus communities, who felt the club was created to allow a safe space for students who aimed to incite more threatening incidents like this under the umbrella of free speech.

Those involved in YAL have posted on their Instagram page about accepting all students, only aiming to break the stigma that Skidmore is a partisan school. Clubs exist on campus for both Democrats and Republicans; however, there arent any that specifically talk about more specific political leanings; e.g., liberalism, conservatism, libertarianism, centrism, socialism, etc. Students who dont specifically fall under those two labels but still want to be politically involved on campus typically resort to the one that better represents them. While this is not a perfect system, it allows safe spaces for students to find others with like-minded views on different issues happening in the United States.

I say we dont need more political clubs on campus because, despite the lack of specific political spaces to align with every students view, I fear that this will create more division. I think the goal should be to create different areas for expression outside of the political spectrum. Many students are overwhelmed with the number of political events occurring daily, and as we become adults, we must stay on top of current events. This can be very exhausting (except for political science majors, perhaps.) I think that clubs should be outlets for students to express their interests and find new passions and that we should shift our focus from trying to create political safe-spaces to just creating safe spaces!

Clubs are supposed to be inclusive and enjoyable, but many clubs on campus do not get much attention or attendance. We should promote clubs with little awareness and create clubs for students who genuinely do not have a safe campus space. For instance, neither physically nor mentally/learning disabled students have a club or organization on campus. This is not because Skidmore does not care about disabled students, but rather because there is not enough student involvement, whether it be lack of interest or lack of club promotion. These organizations on campus only exist as long as students continue to be a part of them. We as a student body need to be more vocal and take more initiative to create spaces for students who do not currently have access to supportive resources on campus. I am now part of a commission to start a club that promotes sobriety on campus for students who struggle with addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous or similar organizations are other examples of clubs that existed on campus but were discontinued, not because students werent struggling with addiction, but because of lack of student involvement.

Before we jump to creating clubs for students and aiming for all-around inclusion, we as a student body need to think about the nearly 130 clubs and 19 sports we have on campus and how we utilize them. Most of us have gone to club fairs, signed up for an email list, and never received an email. How can we change this? If youre not receiving emails from a club you thought was interesting, how can you take the initiative and make the club more active? If you dont see your clubs meeting times on SkidSync, how can you contribute to their presence on campus? Skidmore students first need to help boost the under-appreciated clubs and safe-spaces on campus collectively before we jump to start new ones. This way, students can involve themselves more in different campus circles and activities, and we can have more unity all around.

YAL was not approved by Skidmores student government (SGA) due to the national clubs foundation in discriminatory practices and prejudiced ideology. Although Skidmore College prides itself on students having a place to discuss politics surrounding politics freely, they also strive to protect marginalized populations voices on campus. Herein lies the central moral and ideological dilemma: should Skidmore College ban YAL to prevent creating a platform for possible hate-speech or allow a YAL chapter on campus to uphold the first amendment right to free speech?

The Student Government will be hosting their recurring open Senate meeting tomorrow, Tuesday March 23, at 8pm. At 8:45, SGA plans to reconvene on the approval of YALs trial period. You can tune into the meeting by joining the Zoom meeting using the meeting code 423 957 5121.

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Why We Don't Need Any More "Political" Clubs on Campus The Skidmore News - Skidmore News

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