Students for Liberty
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According to its website, "Students For Liberty is a rapidly growing network of pro-liberty students from all over the world. Our mission is to educate, develop, and empower the next generation of leaders of liberty. We are the largest libertarian student organization in the world. We accomplish this through a strategy of empowerment, identifying the top student leaders and training them to be agents of change in their communities. What began as a small meeting of young leaders has become an international movement of students with thousands local student groups and thousands leaders around the world with operations on every inhabited continent."
Students for Liberty Co-founder Alexander McCobin described the establishment of SFL in an interview with HeadCountBlog,
- "The origins of SFL can be traced back to the summer of 2007 when I was a Koch Summer Fellow at the Reason Foundation, sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies. Other Koch Summer Fellows ran pro-liberty student organizations on their campuses, so I organized a roundtable discussion on best practices for student organizations dedicated to liberty. That roundtable discussion drew a dozen people and was so successful that afterward, several of us decided to expand the concept into a 30 student conference in the Northeast. When we held the follow-up conference in February 2008, we drew 100 students from 42 schools in 3 countries. Since then, SFL has grown to 425+ student groups with thousands of members around the world."
McCobin says of Students for Liberty's growth in the same interview,
- "Today, we have over 425 pro-liberty student groups in our network with thousands of students actively promoting liberty on their campuses. Each year since that first conference we have excelled to the point where we look upon the previous year, which was successful for its own time, and think, “that was nothing compared to where we are now.” It really is amazing to consider how quickly SFL has grown and the significance of our success in such a short amount of time. What it amounts to is an indication of the interest in and support for libertarianism amongst the young generation today. Our generation has been incredibly supportive of libertarianism for a long time, but they didn’t have an outlet to express that interest or develop their opinions. SFL simply provides them with the infrastructure and resources to express their beliefs and take their advocacy to the next level. It may be that interest in libertarianism has increased over the past few years due to either (a) Ron Paul’s 2008 Presidential run, (b) disillusionment with both Bush and Obama, or (c) a generally increasing libertarian sentiment in young people that is becoming more pronounced as young people get older and so gain more power. I tend to think it’s a combination of all of them. Today’s youth are more libertarian than any generation before them, and with such a large amount of our political understanding being shaped by the big government failures of Bush and Obama, we are going to see libertarian ventures gain more popularity, including presidential runs by figures like Ron Paul and the success of organizations like SFL."
News and Controversies
SFL Holds Speak Freely Summit
On April 29, 2017, Students for Liberty held a Speak Freely Summit in College Park, Maryland. Over 200 registrants met and were "provided an opportunity for liberty-minded people to collaborate on the best practices to further free speech on campuses throughout North America." The event comes at a time when GOP state legislators in numerous states are considering bills that would penalize protest that disrupts speaking events on university campuses.
Speakers at the Speak Freely Summit included:
- Flemming Rose, Journalist, author, and Senior fellow at the Cato Institute
- Dave Rubin, The Rubin Report
- Sara Taksler, Producer of The Daily Show
- Faisal Al Mutar, Global Secular Humanist Movement
- Rob Montz, Freelance video producer and director at We The Internet TV)
The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.
Ties to the Koch Brothers
Students for Liberty was founded by Koch Summer Fellows in the summer of 2007.  Since then, it has received $290,435 from the Charles G. Koch Foundation and another $13,800 from the Charles Koch Institute. The Charles Koch Institute also recruits students at SFL events.
Students for Liberty does not disclose its donors, but some of its funding sources are known through other tax filings. Student for Liberty's known funders include:
- Bradley Foundation: $10,000 (2015)
- Charles G. Koch Foundation: $290,435 (2009-2015)
- Charles Koch Institute: $13,800 (2015)
- DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund: $1,910,199 (2010-2015)
- Total Revenue: $3,213,733
- Total Expenses: $3,621,787
- Net Assets: $990,397
- Total Revenue: $2,912,441
- Total Expenses: $2,719,127
- Net Assets: $1,377,979
- Total Revenue: $1,936,728
- Total Expenses: $1,382,683
- Net Assets: $1,148,680
Board of Directors
As of April 19, 2017:
- Sloan Frost, Chairwoman and Director
- Alexander McCobin, Co-Founder
- Dan Grossman
- Sam Eckman
Board of Advisors
- Daniel J. Hannan
- David Boaz
- Eugene Volokh
- George Ayittey
- James W. Lark III
- Jo Kwong
- Nigel Ashford
- Tom G. Palmer
- Frayda Levy
- Gary Johnson
- Prince Michael of Liechtenstein
- John Mackay
- Lawrence Reed
- Linda Whetstone
- Tyler Cowen
- Winston Ling
See more staff here.
Employer Identification Number (EIN): 94-3435899
Students for Liberty
1101 17th Street NW, Suite 810
Washington, DC 20036
- State Policy Network, Directory, organizational website, accessed April 19, 2017.
- Students for Liberty, About, organizational website, accessed April 19, 2017.
- Jonathan Perri, Interview: Alexander McCobin Of Students For Liberty, Students for Liberty, January 14, 2011.
- Caitlyn Tierney, Speak Freely Summit: A Day of Education in College Park, Students for Liberty, 2017.
- SFL North American April 2017 Update, Students for Liberty, May 8, 2017.
- Colleen Flaherty, Words Fly on Free Speech Bill, Inside Higher Ed, May 15, 2017.
- Students for Liberty, 2014 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, March 3, 2016.
- Students for Liberty, 2013 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, March 16, 2015.
- Students for Liberty, 2012 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, January 14, 2014.
- Students for Liberty, Team, organizational website, accessed April 19, 2017.