By: Sabrina Maristela
Jacob Nestle (‘20) and Justin Politzer (‘21) sit at a table enjoying the VIP dinner at the close of YALCON 2019 this past September. They almost didn’t attend that night, finding it odd that only two of the 17 Ashland University attendees could participate in the dinner. They would soon learn, however, that their attendance at the dinner was more than a polite gesture from YALCON coordinators.
Nestle admitted that he had not paid any special attention to the awards that would be presented that night, but the announcer for the “Best Chapter” award catches his attention. He mentions that the president of the winning chapter had interned for the State Policy Network, which he had done this past summer, and that “their president has been published, both in online liberty sites and a national newspaper,” which also fits Nestle’s profile as he’s been published in Liberty Viral, The Libertarian Republic, and the Washington Examiner. After a pause the man announces Ashland University as the winner of “Best Chapter,” and Nestle and Politzer excitedly receive their award.
“My favorite part of YALCON was not knowing we’d be getting the award until literally five minutes before we got it,” says Nestle. “It was incredibly satisfying to have all our hard work pay off with a big recognition like that – especially since it was in front of Senator Rand Paul, Congressman Justin Amash, and several dozen key liberty-focused state legislators.”
After the awards dinner, Nestle and the other AU attendees met and had their photo taken with Senator Rand Paul, one of the keynote speakers at the conference. The other YALCON 2019 speakers included Congressman Justin Amash, Virginia Delegate Nick Freitas, and Jennifer Zeng.
“Best Chapter” is a national honor reserved for the YAL chapter that excels most in member involvement, continued chapter growth, and overall success at spreading the message of liberty in their community. While AU’s chapter isn’t the largest in the country, their impressive growth and continued collaboration with other organizations on campus, both political and non-political, are proof that the chapter deserves this honor. Under President Jacob Nestle, the chapter has grown from just 13 club members (only 6 of which were full members with YAL national) to 53 (42 of which are currently full members). YAL’s success can be attributed to their commitment to, in Nestle’s words, “nonpartisan, fair-minded political conversation on campus.” Nestle also notes that AU YAL’s partnerships with other campus clubs have “paid off big time recently with large interclub events.” Among these events are the interclub debates with the College Democrats and College Republicans, the Freedom Ball, and an upcoming event with Eagles for Pride on the LGBT rights movement. Nestle also says that “with any luck we’ll hit the magic number of 50 full members soon – which will mean YAL National will pay for a speaker to come to campus on our behalf.”
There is no doubt that Ashland’s chapter of YAL has grown remarkably in its size and success, but Nestle is still aiming higher. He distinguishes between two types of goals: what the organization does on campus, and what it can offer its members. “On campus,” he says, “I want YAL to become the emblem of nonpartisan, fair-minded political conversation on campus… YAL should be a place where anyone can come and, if they’re truly trying to advance liberty, be a part of our conversation.” He is glad that AU’s campus is home to a friendly, open-minded political environment that he notes is “increasingly rare today.” He hopes AU YAL can continue that tradition. For students within the club, he adds, “I want the opportunities that YAL National offers to be both known and attainable…While Ashbrook offers a huge set of potential internship and job opportunities, YAL can open even more doors, especially for anyone seeking to get their feet wet with short-term campaign work, activism, or who wants to take advantage of the chance to learn how to run for office.”