Students for Liberty is a non-partisan political student organization at UC Berkeley dedicated to promoting the ideas of limited government, free markets, sound money, non-intervention, and maximum individual liberty to campus and the surrounding community. We spread our message through weekly internal club meetings, external debates with other student organizations, speaker events, rallies, and tabling on Sproul Plaza.
In the club’s first year alone, they held over twenty meetings, hosted seven speaker events, participated in two debates, and organized one rally– a level of activity that surpassed many establish political clubs on campus, despite having a budget of only $150.
The following is an excerpt from the December 2009 edition of the California Patriot magazine, UC Berkeley’s “conservative student voice,” in which President Casey Given was interviewed about the founding of the club and its activity at Cal. The article can also be read online in its entirety.
Spencer Doyle, California Patriot: How did Students for Liberty come about? I remember John Wyrwas held discussion groups last year. Did the club evolve from those?
Casey Given, President, Students for Liberty: Essentially, two specific things happened that stimulated the beginning of Students for Liberty. First, last semester, Ashok Krishna and I became friends. We discovered we were both libertarians and had vague idea about starting a libertarian club at Cal. Second, John Wyrwas told us he wanted to start a Young Americans for Liberty chapter at Cal. Although Ashok and I had a general idea for starting a club, we were not really planning on doing so until John told us his idea. With a graduate student at our side, we figured this would be a great opportunity to actually make our idea come to life. So, at the end of last semester, we officially became Students for Liberty.
SD: What are some of the motivations for having your club? Does it have anything to do with Obama being elected?
CG: The main motivation for starting our club was basically because there was no liberty oriented club on campus. When I first came to Cal, I was eager to find a club dedicated to promoting freedom. Instead, I found that all the political clubs on campus are lovers of government and want the state to manage their lives. The cofounders and I felt that Cal needed a voice that would promote the idea that the individual has the right to control his or her own life, not the government. Cal needed a voice to promote individualism, limited government, and freedom. So, we started the club.
SD: I’ve been told that writing a piece on conservative clubs on campus would be a mistake, since SFL wouldn’t consider itself one. Is this accurate? Specifically, I’ve been told that whereas Republicans and Democrats, conservatives, liberals, think of the ideological spectrum as a line from right to left, Students for Liberty see it in three-dimensions… Would you agree? How would you describe SFL’s ideological tendencies?
CG: I would agree that our club generally does not see itself on the two-dimensional line because that spectrum has a huge logical contradiction on it. Although conservatives claim to like “small government,” they promote large government on social issues. And vice versa with liberals. Although they claim to love “active government,” they essentially want complete freedom on social issues. This is a blatant contradiction. Our club tends to see itself on a three-dimensional spectrum that measures both economic and social issues. On that spectrum, we are on the top right. We consistently believe in freedom, both fiscally and socially. However, we do not have a collective position on issues. We have made it very clear from the beginning that Students for Liberty is a group of like-minded individuals, who think for themselves and can have dissenting opinions. So, there are quite a few different perspectives in our club, from constitutionalists to libertarians to anarchists. However, the basic tendency among club members is that we consistently believe in freedom, fiscally and socially.
Current Club Board
Here are the 2013 executive board members and their responsibilities:
Club Founder: Casey Given
Presidents Emeriti: Bobby Saxton and Will Skinner
Club President: Nik Rajpal