Robert ThomasCollege of Charleston Junior Robert Thomas jumped at the opportunity to challenge a well-known political commentator on national TV. Thomas went to the taping of the Fox News show “Stossel” while he was at the International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington D.C. When Ann Coulter called Libertarians an expletive name, Thomas couldn’t resist asking a question to challenge her.

“Ann Coulter was ‘trolling’ us pretty hard – she was clearly trying to elicit a response from the crowd and she got what she was looking for,” explains Thomas, a political science major from Gainesville, Fla. “I didn’t agree with what she was saying, but I liked her style and knew I wanted to get in on the action.”

Thomas, a Libertarian, asked how Coulter felt about marriage as a private institution and wondered why government needs to be involved in marriage. Thomas attributes some of his debate skills to the political science department that provides a vibrant atmosphere for debate and intellectual discourse. “I love discussion-based learning and debate, which we do a lot of in my political science classes, so this was right up my alley.”

Thomas also says that his parents have been supportive of his activities and says, “My parents watched it and while they didn’t agree with what I said, they thought I was well-spoken.”

Thomas attended the conference with about a dozen other members of the College of Charleston chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, a student run organization with the goal to actively promote the ideas of individual liberty, free markets and limited government. The trip was sponsored by the Initiative for Public Choice & Market Process and the School of Business.

“We are a group of students who are interested in the current events of today and how they will impact our lives in the future,” explains Will Joyce, an economics major and president of the chapter. “Some of our activism events this semester will be a Freedom of Speech Wall, a Free Markets 101 event, and an event focusing on the past decade of war. I’d like to see the College have a stronger political activism presence on campus, and I would like to increase awareness among my peers of the issues students will be facing after they graduate.”

The Initiative for Public Choice & Market Process (IPCMP) helped to fund the trip because the issues that are discussed at the conference align with the program’s mission, which is to explain and discuss the economic, political and moral foundation of a free society.

“It is so important for students to understand the issues of economics and politics on a deeper level and truly understand how free markets function, why they work, and where they fall short,” says Peter Calcagno, economics professor and director of the IPCMP. “They also need to understand how government functions at an institutional level, why we get the polices that we do, and that government solutions also fail, or have unintended consequences.”