Newly founded Young Americans for Freedom flex political muscles on SUNY Oswego campus
By Maria Pericozzi
Young Americans for Freedom is a new bipartisan conservative organization on campus that does not endorse a political party or candidate, but instead focuses on specific views of a candidate.
Tyler Toomey, a junior business major, founded the organization in the spring of 2018.
“With today’s political world, it’s a lot more approachable,” Toomey said. “As a whole, we try to focus on the larger picture and on the values.”
A lot of the members are active with another conservative group on campus — the SUNY Oswego College Republicans. Toomey started Young Americans for Freedom as another way for students who agree with the party’s values and principles, but don’t identify with the Republican Party.
“We share a lot of the same beliefs as Republicans do, with some differences here and there, but there’s not that stigma attached to it of Republican, or Donald Trump or whoever it might be,” Toomey said.
“We wanted to be able to do that to reach students who maybe don’t like the president but have a lot of the same beliefs and values conservatives share,” he added.
Toomey was invited to the White House by President Donald Trump in March to witness the signing of an executive order protecting free speech on college campuses.
“It was an honor to be invited to witness such a historic event, and I was proud to represent members of my organization there,” Toomey said.
“I hope this executive order is the first step in ensuring college campuses not only allow students to voice conservative views, but I hope they can actively promote conservative views in an effort to expose students to both sides of the political spectrum,” he said.
For Young Americans for Freedom, bringing in guest speakers is one of the main events of each semester. Toomey said they bring in guest speakers in order for students to gain a solid understanding and knowledge of relevant topics.
“We try to expose as many students as we can to that issue,” Toomey said. “Even if they don’t agree with us or the particular speaker, we want them to hear our side and from an someone who is an expert in the field.”
Young Americans for Freedom also sends students to conferences all over the country, such as the Conservative Political Action Conference, which was held at the end of February this year. Toomey said it’s the largest conservative conference in the country.
“We saw four days of anybody who is anybody in conservative politics doing speeches, panels and breakout sessions,” Toomey said.
Toomey said the conferences are a great network opportunity.
Young Americans for Freedom is not funded by the Student Association, and relies on some fundraising and mostly generous donors.
“We work with a couple of people locally and alumni as well from the college who are very generous to us and we are very grateful for that,” Toomey said. “Our national organization is great with us as well.”
Toomey said in the future it would be great to be funded by the Student Association to take the burden off of fundraising activities. During the last fall semester, they asked the Student Association to fund $500 for a guest speaker for an event that cost the organization $6,000, and they were denied funding.
“I don’t want to say there’s any bias in our political views in SA, but it is definitely a real challenge because we see clubs that get things and money, and us getting denied a very small amount. It’s tough,” Toomey said.
As a club, Toomey said the overall goal is to expose as many students on campus to their values, beliefs and conservative principles and get students who agree to join the organization.
“More importantly, in regards to students that don’t agree with us, we want to be able to have a discussion and share why we believe what we believe, and listen to why they think what they think,” Toomey said. “If we can agree in the end, great, if not, at least both of us are able to better understand the other side.”