Judith Ayers - York College of Pennsylvania

Republicans aren’t the only one with a PR problem.

Libertarians are frequently viewed as either old, white guys who like to complain about taxes and big bureaucracies or a bunch of college kids who wax philosophic in their dorms rooms, quoting Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek but not doing much else.

Both generations are pigeon-holed, all too often, as heartless businessmen or curmudgeonly know-it-alls who like to debate.

Yet there’s an emerging trend among young libertarians, one that began to crystallize recently at the sixth annual international Students for Liberty conference, and that is a call for a kinder, gentler libertarianism of sorts – as well as a call to action: don’t just talk about concerns, do something about them.

“You will never argue your way into anybody’s heart,” said Magatte Wade, a Forbes 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa and TED Global Africa Fellow. She spoke at the event, which drew more than 1,400 to Washington D.C. in February.

“We don’t want another damn book,” she told the crowd, noting libertarians like to sit and write and talk, but the time now is for action.

Her speech highlights the main shift of libertarianism, whose members no longer want to be stereotyped as grumpy, intellectual free-market maniacs. There was talk at the conference of softening tones; highlighting libertarian stances on social policies, which are very “inclusive” and mirror how many Democrats feel on such issues; and of reclaiming the rhetorical battleground regarding the war against recreational drug use.

“I learned that although we may not all agree on the best method to effect change or see eye to eye on every issue, we are joined together by a common purpose and a harmonized vision for a freer society,” Barbara Sostaita, a junior who attends Salem College, told The College Fix of her experience at the conference.

While the fundamentals in support of a free society, liberty and freedom continue, the sentiments at the conference showcased that young people do not wish to be seen as left or right. A more understanding, transcending Libertarianism prevailed over typical ideologies.

Certainly the conference highlighted frustrations and concerns young libertarians share about big government, over-taxation and overregulation.

“A huge frustration that was relaid to me from a majority of the students I met was the issue of taxation,” Chelsea Close, a senior at University of North Texas, said in an interview. “They do not understand where our money is going if their roads are still damaged, our deficit is just increasing, and their already tiny paychecks are getting even smaller.”

Nevertheless, students voiced optimism about the future. There was a shared sense that social issues can bridge the divide and grow the ranks among the party’s young people. Gay and lesbian rights, for example, are very important to young libertarians, some students at the conference said, noting they’re their friends, peers, classmates – and it’s time to draw them in.

“I realized though that my frustrations with getting our message out are only temporary,” Close said. “These ideas cannot be stifled.”

Fix contributor Judith Ayers is a student at York College of Pennsylvania.

IMAGE: Filippo Pin Alfare

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Getting naked, or just barely, in the name of charity or just plain fun is the latest trend on college campuses across America. Whether it’s a 5K run in bras and panties, posing in the buff for a fundraising calendar, or taking a Christmas card photo with Santa hats on and little else – coeds are getting naked nationwide.

More and more coeds, in fact.

Case in point: Arizona State University’s “Undie Run” Facebook page has more than 16,000“Likes,” and the upcoming run this year is already packed with pledged participants.

At the annual ASU run, female coeds don some of their best lingerie and their male counterparts don their own tighty whiteys. It draws thousands and has been described by at least one student as “a little freaky,” according to a local news report. The effort aids a variety of charities.

Similarly, the annual Nearly Naked Run at Boston University is so popular it had to change to a larger venue. It’s billed as a chance to “Undress, De-Stress and Do Good,” according to its Facebook page. The effort collects clothes for the homeless.

At Washington University in St. Louis, about 40 students took part in its inaugural Nearly Naked Run in December to raise money for an arts outreach program for underprivileged youth. Students ran around the campus in their underwear, sports bras and little else.

Many other campuses across the nation offer similar excuses to strip down for charity. But fun runs aren’t the only show around.

Yale University Men’s Freshman Heavyweight Crew in December took a Christmas card team photo in which they wore nothing but Santa hats and big grins, holding stockings over their privates.

Across the pond, both the male and female rowing teams at the UK-based University of Warwick took nude photos of themselves in which they were cleverly positioned or used props to show nearly everything, stopping just shy of the Full Monty, although there was plenty of buttocks to go around. The pictures, published in December, were taken to fundraise for their athletic programs as well as raise money for charity.

While some applaud the efforts or simply brush them off as youthful fun, others argue it’s an example of the sexualization of America’s youth and an abandonment of modesty.

Colleen Carroll Campbell, a prominent conservative commentator, said in an interview with The College Fix that these students have been raised in a sexualized culture and “absorbed its messages all too well, mistakenly equating exhibitionism with liberation and objectification with positive attention.”

The efforts are also misguided, added Campbell, a journalist, EWTN host, former presidential speechwriter, and author of “My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir” and “The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy.”

“College students have been pulling silly stunts and shocking pranks for generations, so that’s nothing new,” she said. “What is new, perhaps, is to try to recast group stripteases as evidence of altruism – as if scampering in your undies is somehow more selfless than serving in a soup kitchen, tutoring struggling students or helping build new homes for low-income families.”

She also questions whether students have thought longterm about their actions.

“This trend probably won’t be one that wears well,” Campbell said. “Romping in the nude may feel exciting when you’re 20, but when you’re 30 and job hunting – or spouse hunting – and trying to explain those compromising online photos, it’s another story.”

Fix contributor Judith Ayers is a student at York College of Pennsylvania.

IMAGE CREDIT: Huffington Post

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In the video-gaming world, “leveling up” is the all-important increase in a player’s rank that psychologically keeps gamers doing better and wanting more – so some professors figure: Why not apply that concept to the classroom?

But instead of leveling-up, students can earn “badges” to show they’ve mastered an academic concept, icons they can not only earn over the course of a semester, but also post in social media outlets and even tally up and group together to indicate special skill sets on their resumes.

Badges are trending in the higher education arena, and whether they catch on remains to be seen, but a few professors piloting the concept claim it’s a positive paradigm shift.

They’re more specific than grades, the educators argue, adding the badges also create a carrot-stick approach to education that keeps kids engaged and interested.

“(Many sudents) were motivated by that badge, so they did the optional badges as well; not all, but some went to learn further,” Purdue University professor Bill Watson, who piloted the program this semester, told The College Fix.

“They add value to things that are hard to assess,” added Daniel Hickey, an associate professor at Purdue University who is trying them out, in an interview with The College Fix.

The educators said the badges alleviate many of the frustrations connected to higher education, and the pilot program launched this semester at Purdue shows promising results.

For example, Watson said, the badges offer a “comprehensive base look at assessment,” breaking down courses’ objectives and offering more flexibility.

“What steps does it takes to earn this badge,” he said. “What does that translate into as far as course activities and assignments? What are the students doing and mastering as they come out of that course?”

Watson used them in an online graduate level course, and said students could see exactly what they would have to do to get the badges in order to show their mastery. Students even had the option to make the badges, once earned, publicly available on social media platforms.

This, Watson said, put the power back in the students’ hands. Employers can now go in and look at the skills that the student and potential employee have to offer, he said.

“It helps the student prove themselves,” Watson said. “They only have a transcript to show what they have learned, but the employer can’t see how that translates. Now they’ll have a type of portfolio that the employer can see with his own eyes.”

Meanwhile, reaction to the pilot program is mixed, he said.

“Some are seeing it as a different grade box,” he said.

Watson emphasized it will be a long time and hard road before grades are out and badges are in.

“I am required to give letter grades and I have a finite amount of time,” he said. “Implementing this system is like trying to do it with one hand tied behind my back, I can’t give (the students) full flexibility. I can’t do that in the current structure.”

Hickey said the program is a work in progress, but he likes what he sees so far – especially when it comes to the interaction and dialogue it created on social media platforms.

“You see a whole other process that happens in your social network when you put those badges out there,” he said.

Fix contributor Judith Ayers is a student at York College of Pennsylvania.

IMAGE: Rocket Ship/Flickr

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According to Zach Wahls, of Youtube fame, liberals and libertarians should start building “a bridge to not nowhere.”

During a webinar last night as part of the Students For Liberty Webinar series, liberal activist Zach Wahls (a Fix Contributor–read his articles here) emphasized cooperation and respect for liberal-libertarian alliances under the banner of “liberal-tarianism.”

Wahls said that liberals and libertarians should frame their differences–market failure, prejudice/privilege, government’s role and purpose, and principle/pragmatism–and form partnerships where they define goals, build trust and relationships, identify strategies, tactics, and a plan of action, execute the plan, and then wrap-up and have a resolution. All of these steps are crucial to building lasting left-libertarian alliances.

But it’s not all easy going. There are many obstacles to cooperation, said Wahls, such as distrust on economic issues, the internal incongruity in libertarianism, and staunch principle-oriented libertarians.

Despite the differences there is much overlap on issues such as ending the drug war, protecting civil rights, recognizing same-sex marriages, protecting internet freedom, and opposing imperialistic interventionism, the prison industrial complex, and governmental business collusion.

Wahls’ parting words were universal for all movements.

“When having a conversation, disagreements will arise but it is important to sit down and talk through difference of opinion and belief and respect is key,” he said. “Remember, it is not to covert anyone, just to form alliances and work together for a better tomorrow.”

Students For Liberty is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide a unified, student-driven forum of support for students and student organizations dedicated to liberty.

Fix Contributor Judith Ayers is a student at York College of Pennsylvania and a member of Students for Liberty.

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“Miss him yet?” That’s how former White House Press Secretary, Dana Perino, began her talk at York College of Pennsylvania this week. She was referring to her former boss, George W. Bush.

Since leaving her job at the White House, Perino has served as a media strategist, political commentator, and Fox News Contributor.

Perino’s impressive career served as a background for the personal advice that she gave the students.

“Don’t be afraid to move. To be ungracious is to be unwise. Find your strong voice. Read. Stay fit.” Those were just some of the tips she gave.

She aimed her advice especially at young women in the audience. As White House Press Secretary, Perino was only the second woman and first Republican woman to hold the position. Prior to holding that position she also served as the principal deputy press secretary.

"Miss Him Yet?"

The auditorium was packed and students said they benefited from her talk. “It was a great experience,” said York College junior, Kristen Evans. “As a Public Relations major, I feel that I can use the insight Mrs. Perino provided to help in my career.”

Junior Brooke Cortese said, “She made it known that sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know,” referencing the stories of how she met her husband – sitting next to him on a plane, and how she received one of her first political jobs – meeting someone at a hockey game.

Forgiveness, humor, hard work, and graciousness were the themes of her talk. She detailed some of her toughest moments, including when her former boss, Scott McClellan, released his very critical book on President Bush.

The crowd was very energetic and responsive as she encouraged young men and women to travel, citing her experience volunteering at a women’s HIV clinic in Africa. She told a story of becoming a manicurist for women in a hospice. “Women are the same all over,” she said.

Perino’s talk – “Tales from the Trenches” was hosted by the York College Center for Professional Excellence. Working in direct partnership with College departmental leaders, the CPE works to to assist students in building attitudes and skills that will enable them to be professionals and effective in their careers.

Being adventurous, taking your career into your own hands, reaching out to those around you, and not passing up opportunity–these are important skills to take into the professional world, she said.

Currently, she serves as president of Dana Perino and Company–a strategic communications firm she founded in 2009. Earlier in her career she was director of communications for the White House Council on Environmental Quality and a spokesperson at the Department of Justice after the 9/11 attacks. “Nothing I will ever do will be as hard as working in the White House,” she said.

Perino told students that personal character is the key to professional success. “Be gracious. Be humble. Be forgiving but be strong.”

Fix Contributor Judith Ayers is a student at York College of Pennsylvania.

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Louis Farrakhan sparked debate at UC Berkeley with his his visit on March 10. The Black Student Union invited the leader of the Nation of Islam to appear as part of its ninth annual Afrikan Black Coalition Conference.

As expected, there were some controversial moments. It was reported that, at one point, he “briefly adopted a faux Asian accent and used gibberish after asking the audience if they had ever seen the Chinese picketing, drawing a gasp from some in the crowd.”

Farrakhan is an outspoken racial separatist, an his politics have long been considered controversial. He once called president Barack Obama “an assassin,” and has a long history of making inflammatory statements tinged with racism and bigotry.

He once told Californians, “With your state filled with homosexuals, filled with degenerates, filled with disease … With all of this going on in your state, you should welcome me like the return of Jesus Christ.”

He called Judaism “a gutter religion” and referred to the Pope as an “Antichrist.”

UC president Mark Yudof defended Farrakhan’s invitation to speak at the university on free speech grounds: “We cannot as a society allow what we regard as vile speech to lead us to abandon the cherished value of free speech,” he wrote in an open letter.

Prior to the event, executives in the UC student government published an op-ed calling on Farrakhan to “exercise his free speech someplace else.”

Nevertheless, students affirmed Yudof’s sentiment by showing up in large numbers. The 700-seat auditorium was almost filled, while a few protestors gathered outside.

Farrakhan spoke about female empowerment and African American self-reliance and empowerment, especially concerning issues such as education.

Berkeley student Noah Ickowitz said he was offended  by Farrakhan’s comments about Jews. “(He said) that Jews control the government and that you need to be their friends in order to be successful, that Jews control the media. To me, that was just so hateful and horrible,” Ickowitz said in an interview with KTVU.

The audience gave Farrakhan a standing ovation at the end.

The UC Berkley Public Affairs office would not comment directly about Farrakhan’s speech, but did respond with a statement signed by university chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau, which addressed the visit. “We are very pleased that the student groups worked together and engaged in productive dialogues about free speech and the issues students face from a number of perspectives. This is the positive outcome of free speech and what UC Berkeley can be proud of in our long history.”

The UC Black Student Union did not respond to a request for comment.