National YAL member makes case for WSU chapter
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Eric Caruso is a die-hard believer in the First Amendment.
As a member of the national Young Americans for Liberty organization, the junior industrial engineering major watched closely as the Student Senate denied a WSU chapter of the organization before having their decision unanimously overturned by the Student Supreme Court.
Now, that the dust has settled on the nationally-noted campus conflict, Caruso hopes to join the WSU chapter and advocate for his constitutional values.
“I didn’t know until last week that there was going to be a local university organization, but as soon as I get a chance, I will join that group,” Caruso said. “I’ve cared about freedom and liberty ever since I was able to understand government.”
Caruso recognized the concerns made by multiple student senators that YAL chapters on other campuses have blurred the line between free speech and hate speech, but said that does not give anyone the right to silence others’ opinions.
“As someone who believes in freedom of speech, when people use that for hate speech, I think that’s ignorant, small-minded, and racist, but I support their right to say those things under the First Amendment.” Caruso said.
Caruso said he sees the First Amendment as a necessary democratic tool for openly discussing contentious issues.
“The First Amendment was put into place so that we could talk about controversial things, and everyone has the right to voice their opinions whether I think their opinions are right or wrong,” Caruso said.
He rejected the claims made by some in SGA that bringing YAL to campus would create a dangerous environment.
“YAL does not support violence of any type,” Caruso said. “In fact, that’s one of their mission statements to be nonviolent unless your life is in danger.”
Caruso said the negative reception to YAL on campus went against the university’s all-inclusive goals.
“Stereotyping YAL based on a few isolated incidents is prejudiced for a college campus that promotes inclusivity and diversity,” Caruso said.
Caruso said bringing a controversial speaker to campus in the near future would not be advisable, and he would rather focus on educating students and engaging in meaningful dialogue.
“In this kind of political climate, it’s more important to study the constitution and understand our rights as citizens of the United States,” Caruso said. “On campus, I’d rather talk about free-market economics and out of control national debt than I would have these provocateurs come onto campus.”
At the last SGA meeting, Sen. Paul Raymond who met with members of WSU’s YAL group, said their first goal was to set up a table in the RSC to educate students on the tax code.
Above all else, Caruso hopes students can gain a deeper appreciation of their First Amendment rights.
“It’s not a coincidence that freedom of speech is first on the Bill of Rights.”