If a group of young activists wants to grab people’s attention, standing on the quad with a sign that says “Pot Brownies” is a good way to do it.
Last week, Truman State University’s Young Americans for Liberty put on their punny event and gave away brownies served in a pot to protest the war on drugs. To be clear, the brownies they served had no drugs in them.
“Once we got [people’s] attention we were able to talk to them about the harmful effects that the war on drugs has and why it should be ended,” Truman’s YAL President Naomi Mathew said.
There were many conversations with people who agreed with YAL’s message and a few conversations with those who did not. With some back and forth, however, Mathew said she was able to find common ground with people who opposed YAL’s stance.
During the event, YAL also handed out informational pamphlets and posters about the war on drugs and the effects of drug criminalization.
“The war on drugs led to massive incarceration, dangerous cartels and a waste of taxpayer money,” Kayla Drummond, YAL’s public relations director, wrote in an email press release. “It has done nothing to stop drug abuse.”
Also in some of the pamphlets was information about YAL, a non-partisan student activist group with over 600 chapters nationwide. Mathew said the goal of YAL is to advocate for liberty, a topic that means a lot to her.
“I started doing debate in high school, and I had to start learning about issues and thinking for myself, and I had the mindset that limited government is good and people should live their lives the way they want,” Mathew explained.
Mathew is also involved in College Republicans at Truman State University and College Democrats of Truman State University, and said members from both of those groups are involved in YAL as well.
During middle school and part of high school, Mathew said she would have referred to herself as a Republican.
“I didn’t know anything about politics, but all of my friends around me were Republican,” Mathew continued. “I grew up around a pretty predominately Republican place, so I just thought that’s what I was.”
Later in high school, around the time that she got involved in debate, Mathew began to realize that her beliefs aligned more with Libertarianism.
Mathew found out about YAL as a freshman at the fall Activities Fair and became president that December. Since becoming president, the membership of Truman’s chapter has grown from four to 15 active, dues-paying members. Mathew said she would like to see YAL become the most active political organization on campus.
“When I found Young Americans for Liberty in college, it was just someplace where I felt like I belonged,” Mathew concluded.