The Santa Clara
April 11, 2019
Nobody would’ve guessed it, but even the Founding Fathers had a safe space. No, their safe space didn’t include juice boxes and a petting zoo. The safe space of Madison and Jefferson instead relied upon seven articles and 10 amendments. With some well-needed adjustments, those articles and amendments remain the rules—the Constitution, for our safe space, America, to this day.
Yet some people on college campuses don’t want to follow rule No. 1 of our safe space, the First Amendment. Our Founders knew that punishing people for their ideas was wrong, others today don’t. There’s a disturbing trend at academic institutions of anti-free speech individuals censoring, bullying and even assaulting those with whom they disagree. Their behavior is unacceptable. But who’s standing up against it?
Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), a project of Young America’s Foundation, is the answer. YAF was founded in 1960 by William F. Buckley, Jr., an icon of journalism, and a group of students as a way of quelling the tide of intolerance at universities. Nearly six decades later, YAF remains true to that goal. Chapters across America continue to ensure all students can speak freely on campus.
Santa Clara, unfortunately, does not have YAF. So a few classmates and I—we now number more than 30—began the process of establishing our own chapter. Only a vote in the student senate stands in our way of full recognition.
The senate will be happy to know that YAF promotes principles consistent with the Catholic teachings of human dignity and human freedom. YAF stands for family values, limited government, the sanctity of life and every individual’s God-given liberty.
That’s why some of YAF’s most successful chapters, from Notre Dame to Loyola Marymount, are at Catholic universities. Indeed, YAF will conduct itself in a manner that’s consistent with Santa Clara’s values. Unlike most ideological groups, we are not provocateurs—we are educators.
There are two topics we hope to immediately address. First, we believe that the successes of legal immigrants must be better highlighted for students. YAF truly appreciates that this country is a nation of immigrants. We view America the same way that President Reagan did, as a “shining city on a hill…teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace.” That’s how he saw it then. It’s how we see it now. Those with the courage to legally immigrate to America deserve recognition. We’ll make sure that they receive it.
Second, all Broncos rightly celebrate Women’s History Month, but many of us are saddened that some groups deem particular women to be unworthy of praise. Conversely, YAF believes in acknowledging the contributions that all women have made to society—including those who may be deemed “conservative.” YAF recognizes former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley for her unwavering defense of democracy, and for trailblazing a path for Indian-American women in the public eye.
YAF celebrates former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor for standing up for the Constitution and proving the sexists of her time wrong far beyond a reasonable doubt. And YAF, unlike some organizations, acknowledges Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., for her commitment to the sanctity of life.
But YAF will not only improve our campus—it could change our lives. It certainly changed mine. YAF afforded one of my best friends and me the opportunity to visit President Reagan’s Ranch in August 2017. While we didn’t initially attend for the most ideological reasons—she went because her grandmother wanted her to, I went because she was going— both of us left inspired by the good that people who practice free speech and liberty can provide our world.
Similarly, members of our chapter will have opportunities to visit the Reagan Ranch, attend conferences in Washington D.C. and participate in other YAF-exclusive events. YAF also enriches universities by bringing world-renowned, intellectually-diverse speakers to campuses across America. Many of those speakers are under contract to speak exclusively for YAF—College Republicans and Turning Point USA cannot invite them—yet all students will benefit from their ideas.
Our chapter now faces a decisive vote of approval in the student senate. The standards for senate recognition, according to Senate Chair Alex Perlman, are simple: “If they aren’t posing direct harm or overlap, then we have an obligation to approve them.”
Direct harm occurs when we don’t have free speech; YAF will reverse the scourge of ignorance by promoting more peaceful dialogue on campus. And we’ve shown that YAF is unique from every other organization currently at Santa Clara.
We’re confident that our senators will meet their obligation by voting “yes.” Doing so will establish our safe space as safe for everyone. We can all toast a juice box to that.
Quinn Eibert is a first-year political science major.