New campus club promotes libertarian ideas

Colt Scronce, ’18, is one of the leaders of the newly formed Allegheny College chapter of the libertarian organization Young Americans for Liberty. The group is responsible for a collection of constitutionally inspired sidewalk chalk illustrations several weeks ago.

The organization, which spun off from Ron Paul’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid as the Libertarian Party candidate, states on its website that its mission is “to identify, educate, train, and mobilize youth activists,” especially those with a libertarian ideology.

For Scronce and the other members of the organization, this mission involved writing in chalk on the bricks of Brooks Circle in order to draw attention to the group and its cause. Yet the “Chalk the Walk” campaign, as Scronce called it, was about more than just the Bill of Rights.

Ultimately, it’s the students who run the club. I cannot take any credit for the good stuff that they do.

— Simon Bilo

“Tuesday night of that week, we were having a movie screening, so we were kind of accomplishing multiple goals at once,” Scronce said. “Also, it’s a cool thing to do on a Friday night.”

The movie, “The Deep Web,” was shown as part of a national Young Americans for Liberty initiative. The movie chronicled the trial of Dread Pirate Roberts, the screen name of the man who was arrested on Oct. 2, 2013 in connection with the Silk Road, an Internet-based market which the FBI shut down after it became an outlet for selling illicit drugs.

“Allegedly, he ran the Silk Road,” Scronce said. “But the FBI never produced the server, never really told how. That kind of opened up the question of were his First Amendment rights respected.”

Scronce said that Robertson’s trial left many unsatisfied and questioning the larger governmental system in the U.S.

“It leaves many people wondering, was this a fair trial, and do you have a Fourth Amendment in the 21st Century,” Scronce said.

Gillian Greene, ’20,  said the club’s existence on campus was a relief because it offers students an option outside of  the two major political parties.

“It’s kind of hard right now, because it’s like you might not always agree with everything, like say what the Democrats say or the Republicans say,” she said. “It’s nice to kind of have a middle ground.”

Simon Bilo, professor of economics at Allegheny, serves as the faculty advisor for YAL.

“Sometimes, I’ll have a very short lecture at some of the meetings,” Bilo said.

Bilo said his goal, however, is not to control the students, or run the club. He said he aims to have the students run the club themselves.

“Ultimately, it’s the students who run the club,” Bilo said. “I cannot take any credit for the good stuff that they do.”

Bilo said he sees an important role for libertarianism as a political idea.

“I’m not hiding that I’m very much interested in ideas of classic liberalism,” he said. “Terminologically it’s complicated, because what we call here libertarianism, … used to be, … a set of ideas that we used to call classic liberalism, … but for some reason, the term morphed into what we understand as liberalism today,” Bilo said.

Bilo also views libertarianism as having a significant place on the political spectrum.

“Diversity is very often a good thing,” Bilo said. “Whether it’s a matter of different people coming from different parts of society and mixing together, and people having different ideas and interacting with each other.”

Young Americans for Liberty meets in room 212 of Arter Hall every Wednesday at 8 p.m.