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Friday, June 14, 2024

Young Americans for Freedom president Daniel Weldon’s recent letter to the editor missed the mark. Although the author raised a number of valid concerns regarding students’ ability to engage in conservative dialogue on a college campus, his conclusion in calling for administration to intrude in student affairs ultimately departs from fundamental principles of conservatism. To his point, attending the Ben Shapiro Accent show this past Monday was the first time I witnessed faculty protesting a student-organized and funded event in my five years at UF. While this was certainly concerning, demanding “change” or “action” from UF President Kent Fuchs and administration would prove to be both fruitless and counterintuitive for an organization championing the cause of individual liberty. First, Fuchs is no more able to prevent students from tearing down conservative fliers on campus than he is able to prevent white supremacists putting fliers up on campus. At a certain point, it becomes necessary for students to reassess our beliefs on what is reasonable to expect from administration in ridding our campus of bias. Second, the author’s sentiments have begun to mirror those of the students Shapiro so adamantly opposes. Self-victimization likens the author to the “snowflakes” much of Monday evening was spent criticizing. Rather than calling on administration at a publicly funded institution to step in, conservatives on campus should pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Bringing conservative speakers like Shapiro to campus is an excellent start, and I commend Weldon and YAF. Although I will concede there are campuses around the country like the University of California, Berkeley where students’ First Amendment rights are being trampled and administration intervention is necessary, this is simply not the case at UF. In between the sparse ranks of protestors, I also witnessed Dean of Students Office protest team staff working to deescalate the situation so the event could continue uninterrupted. Campus climate and culture should be shaped by students and students alone. When we call on others to fight our battles for us, we lose the autonomy and freedom we work so hard to maintain. Individualism and freedom from institutional intrusion is a hallmark of the conservative movement. Let’s keep it that way.

Blake Murphy is a 23-year-old first-year UF law student and a member of the UF Hall of Fame.

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