“Over the pond and beyond” Students For Liberty in Europe
Juli 13, 2011
The aticle was published first at the Students for Liberty Website
I think I have realized it now. I am an Executive Board Member of Students for Liberty (SFL). This student organization exists since three years and operates mainly in the U.S.A. and since this 24th-26th of June in Europe as well. The professionalism of the webinars previous to last week’s retreat (kick-off conference) at the Institute of Economic Affairs made me already excited. However, I only have realized what an incredible life changing step I made with my application for the European SFL (ESFL) board, when I stopped for a second in the meetings and realized what was going on: Nine students made their ways from all around the world (Hong Kong, Argentina, USA, Lithuania, Italy, Germany, Belgium) to London to plan the future of the classical liberal or libertarian student movement in Europe.
Sitting in suits and talking about business plans, theory of social change, planning of conferences with 150 people (Save the date: 4th – 6th of November in Brussels), outreach, media communication and our tasks within Europe, was an incredible experience and gives me hope for the future of Europe in face of all the problems like bail-outs, transfer union, violation of civil rights, police violence, indebtedness, monetary expansion without limits and so much more. I took ownership over certain projects and I am sitting in my plane toward NYC, working on different topics and just smiling about the possibilities and interesting challenges I will encounter, about the people I am going to meet, the new things I will do and the knowledge I will gain. A first taste of this was a meeting with the Think-Tank Open Europe. The day after the three day retreat we suited up again and went with three people to the meeting. As a newbie in the organization, I took over the moderation and the introduction and explained them what we are doing, what we have done and what is going to happen in Europe. It was a fantastic experience and we found out a lot of ways to collaborate. This was incredibly fun and I am looking forward to more meetings in the US to spread the word about ESFL.
A little bit of background knowledge for the people who do not know Students for Liberty: We are a non-profit organization from students for students dedicated to communicate the ideas of Freedom. The focus has been mainly in the U.S. so far and SFL has done a tremendous job. After only three years of existence, over 500 students groups are members of the network, one free book has been published and another one about the Morality of Capitalism (100.000 copies) is on its way. Last year SFL ran nine conferences with over 1600 participants. The biggest one included a taping of the Stossel Show and had over 500 attendees. The next year’s conference from 17th -19th February 2012 in D.C. is going to be even bigger. It is impossible for me to picture this, but it must be monumental.
Our goal is to become THE resource for pro-liberty students all over the world. We are doing this by providing resources, like books, online seminars with famous speakers, information about possibilities for internships, conferences, and seminars. An important part of our work is to offer training to students. Every student group or student has a regional director she or he can consult. In addition to that SFL is running a Campus Coordinator Program and is providing useful handbooks how to run a student group. The last thing what we are focusing on is networking. Libertarian students are (especially in Europe) normally quite alone on the social-democratic campuses. Let me tell you: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are plenty of us out there and we get more every day. We are working with a lot of key figures of liberty, with think-tanks and other organization to provide the best possibilities for libertarian students. (It is self-evident that we do not work together with any kind of racist, sexist, homophobe, xenophobe, and conspiracy theorists organization.)
We are focusing on the ideas and encouraging discussions about different philosophies. We are not preaching that there is only one way of achieving liberty. Therefore, our definition of liberty is open, but we are stressing the importance of civil liberty to life one’s life as one wishes, of economic liberty to have the opportunity to provide for one’s life, and academic freedom. Times are changing and people are waking up. The desire for something new is not only visible in Spain or Greece. Also, a bigger and steady growing amount of brave Belarusians face the totalitarian apparatus of Lukashenko on Minsk’s streets. Unfortunately, the proposed solution often seems to be once more statism, what screwed them and us over in the first place and what was tried for far too long. It is time for our generation to communicate the ideas of freedom. It is time for the European Students for Liberty.