This past weekend, over 30 Hillsdale College students attended the Young America’s Foundation conference in Columbus, Ohio. As of this semester, Young Americans for Freedom is an official club at Hillsdale College and has only been growing.
According to chairman Nathan Brand, YAF is emerging as “the new hot group on campus.” His reasoning: last year, the budding student organization attended the YAF conference in Milwaukee, Wis. as one of the smallest chapters represented with six students. This year in Columbus, Hillsdale’s 30 students made the the college one of the largest chapters at the conference.
Vice chairman junior Philip Wegmann believes that after this past conference, the future of Hillsdale’s YAF chapter is promising.
“There is longevity built into a four year plan here,” Wegmann said. “We have so many freshmen who are so engaged. This is going to be their thing. When Nate and I graduate, our position is going to filled.”
At the Freedom Conference in Columbus, conservative icons such as Liz Cheny, Stephen F. Hayes, and Rick Santorum addressed the student audience on preserving upstanding political ideals and incorporating conservatism in everyday politics.
“It reinforces what we hear in the classroom,” said Wegmann. “Here, we learn about the good, the true, and the beautiful. At the YAF conference, we’re learning about social policy.”
According to Brand, the conference was little more than 200 students. Due to the small size of the conference, the students exploited the opportunity of one-on-one time with the speakers. Brand and Wegmann both joked with Hayes about the Green Bay Packer’s loss and later pestered Santorum on the fact that he failed to show at Hillsdale College last spring.
Wegmann said that one of his favorite parts of the confernce was meeting such iconic figures outside of their suits, holding conversations with them as normal people. All this first hand experience for $20.
The next YAF conference will be held in Orlando, Fla., over fall break with speakers such as Karl Rove and Dinesh D’ Souza.
In addition to club’s youth, the constant involvement of YAF encouraged Brand and Wegmann that the club will have a significant on Hillsdale.
“It’s something that we’ll do year in and year out,” Brand said. “Not just in November. There’s more to life than studying Aristotle. There’s real life.”
YAF will hold several events this fall. One of which includes a voter registration drive that will be assisted by the College Republicans later this month.
“YAF is a breeding group for generational leaders,” Brand said. “Like Reagan and Buckley. The next generation is going to come out of YAF.”