Their beliefs are uncommon in comparison to mainstream political parties, but their ideology is being embraced on Temple’s campus.
In March 2007, the Temple Libertarians were officially registered as a student organization on campus.
Ryan Kuchinskas, a junior political science major, and John Kirkland, a junior philosophy major, collaborated on the notion of forming a Libertarian organization after being introduced to one another at a Philadelphia Libertarian Party meeting in February, 2007.
They created a group on Facebook, the social networking Web site, in order to see how many Temple students would be interested. When the number neared 50, they knew the possibility had become reality.
The Temple Libertarians’ goals include promoting liberty, personal responsibility, small government and voluntary cooperation.
But the group’s main goal is to educate the masses. They want to help others better understand what libertarianism is, Kuchinskas said.
“I think the most important aspect of creating this group is education,” Kirkland said “It’s very rare when you meet someone who isn’t a Libertarian who actually knows the philosophy of Libertarianism.”
Libertarianism, as defined by Kuchinskas, encompasses the idea that a person’s life is his or her own and therefore should not be restrained by the government. This also requires that people take responsibility for their own actions.
According to the Libertarian Party of the United States, libertarians believe in a free-market economy, a dedication to civil liberties and personal freedom and a foreign policy of non-intervention, peace and free trade.
“The government should be there to protect us from others, not to protect us from ourselves,” said Kaushik Shankar, a senior political science and philosophy major. Shankar is also one of the co-founders of the group.
The Libertarian ideology relates to both the Republican and Democratic parties. Libertarians generally agree with the social stances of the Democratic Party, while agreeing with the Republican Party on the economic issues.
This connection allows for a common ground to be set among the political parties and correspondence among the organizations formed on campus.
“One of the ideas I have constantly been pushing in our meeting is outreach to both the [Temple] College Democrats and College Republicans, because we have stances in common with both groups and both could use a third viewpoint to challenge their own political conceptions,” said Francis Boyle, a junior political science major. Boyle joined Temple Libertarians after coming across the Facebook group.
“We’re offering a breath of fresh air in the form of a third political choice,” Kuchinskas said. “The ‘lesser of two evils’ mentality of our system forces people to compromise what they believe in.”
Ryan McCool, a junior political science major and president of the Temple College Republicans, said he is happy to see a new political group within the student organizations.
“I thought it was just great to have a libertarian group on campus, having libertarian views myself. I see only positive things coming out of a third party on campus,” he said.
“I remember what it was like being a part of revamping the Temple College Democrats last year and I am thrilled and excited for Ryan in his efforts to do the same with this group,” said Anna Walker, a political science and economics major and president of the Temple College Democrats.
The Temple Libertarians have approximately 25 official members but hope to gain more through outreach, especially with Fall Fest approaching, Shankar said
The organization plans to meet the first and third Friday every month and second and fourth Tuesday of the month. Meetings will be held at 5:30 p.m. in a break-out room in the TECH Center until another location can be set.
Amanda Fries can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.