There are two new political groups on campus—one focused on human rights and the other on libertarianism.
Butler’s chapter of Amnesty International recently returned to campus after a short hiatus.
Amnesty International is an organization that focuses on human rights around the world—a mission that includes working with political prisoners, ensuring fair trials and punishments and promoting equality and justice.
Matt Kasper, a junior political science and international studies major, said the group’s leadership is trying to build attention for the group by basing its efforts on members’ particular interests.
“If you’re really passionate about one thing, let’s take that and focus on that,” Kasper said.
The group works closely with Books for Peace and the yet-to-be recognized Butler Peace and Justice group. Kasper said the Amnesty International chapter will join these groups for Peace Week from April 18-22 and bring in speakers and host panels next year.
Kasper said the group will be a “low commitment” organization, where people can come and watch a documentary or discuss an issue to learn more about it.
Josh Slusher, a junior political science major, said the goal for this semester is to recruit people to keep the organization thriving. It has been recognized and then made inactive before and almost became unrecognized again.
“On Butler’s campus, it’s really easy to start an organization, but it’s just as easy and can take just as long to die essentially,” Slusher said.
Slusher said he sees Amnesty International as different from other political organizations in that it has many facets and focuses on creating awareness and action.
“[College Republicans and College Democrats] are more politically focused organizations with specific agendas, whereas we’re more about advocacy,” Slusher said.
Kasper said people will be more drawn to the group now because of current events around the world that involve human rights.
“With what has been going on in other places like Libya, students want to learn about these types of things,” Kasper said.
Students for Liberty
Dan Schramm, a junior actuarial science and economics major, said he looked into forming a chapter of Students for Liberty when he realized there were no organizations at Butler that fit his fiscally conservative, socially liberal beliefs.
He researched groups like College Libertarians and Young Americans for Liberty, but chose Students for Liberty because it focuses more on educating people about libertarianism than campaigning.
“I wanted this group to focus more on evangelism almost with libertarian beliefs,” Schramm said.
While libertarianism can encompass some Tea Party beliefs, its underlying focus is more on limited government and expansive individual rights.
Josh Ackermann, a senior physician assistant major, said the group distributed quizzes to help people determine whether or not they are libertarian based on issues and fundamental beliefs.
“We pull from the fiscal conservative views of the republicans with the personal liberties that most democrats seem to agree with,” Ackermann said.
Schramm said many people on campus would consider themselves libertarians if they were clear on what it means. He wants to reach out to those who affiliate themselves with either political party.
“We want to draw people who don’t feel like they fit in with the Democrat and Republican parties, who would give you the Democrat answer on a lot of social issues and probably a more Republican answer on fiscal issues,” he said.
The group has started small, focusing on raising awareness about issues and building a group.
Schramm said he hopes to make a greater push at Block Party in the fall, bring in speakers and become more active during the election season.
Ackermann said he hopes the group raises the party’s visibility.
“We want to show people there is a third option,” Ackermann said. “And it is a viable option.”