March 7, 2019
Writer: Virginia Henry
With all of the political intrigue circulating all over the internet it can be hard to understand what’s going on. It can also be polarizing and sometimes even lonely. In Rexburg there is a place for anyone and everyone who wants to educate themselves about the political landscape. It’s called the Madison Liberty Institute.
Students and professors founded the institute last September. They say they saw a need in the community. BYU-Idaho doesn’t host groups or events that are partisan in any way. These students and professors realized there were groups who needed a place to go, a home more like it. So they founded the Madison Liberty Institute which is located right next to the Post Office north of the Snow building.
In short, it is a nonprofit, independent, nonpartisan, organization that specializes in education, community and student outreach.
Jacob Householder the senior intern over Development and Operations explains what the institute has developed into since its founding.
Jacob said that the institute was created “To provide a place for student clubs who want to focus on freedom, constitutional studies, American history research, promoting freedom and liberty, a safe place for them to organize and put on events and just promote that kind of an education. So that was the spark freedom branch and it evolved into much more than that. Spark freedom is just one of the three branches of the Madison liberty institute.”
The student outreach branch is called Spark Freedom and the community outreach branch is called Brush Fires.
Several student groups currently meet at the Institute. Some are nationally known like Young Americans for Freedom, The Columbus Center, Students for Liberty, and Turning Point USA. They meet each week. The student groups are diverse and don’t all have the same focuses or opinions.
“There are some that are more activism minded and want to just get in the streets and be heard,” Householder said. “And then there are some that are more interested in personal studies getting into the books, learning the philosophy of the founding fathers and others. So there’s a place for everyone.”
There are also paid internships offered as well as ones that can count for college credit, or just for business experience. Last semester they had about 400 students involved.
“We notice that people who get really involved in politics without proper education generally promote threats to freedom and our constitution even if their intentions are the best,” Householder said. “So we want to make sure that that educational program is in place for people to move forward as responsible citizens with the right kind of education.”
They have a freedom library so everyone and anyone can understand arguments for and against different constitutional issues.
It’s not just all book reading and research though. They take feedback from the students and have engaging activities to help students explore different topics. They have movie nights each week and game nights to help students bond as well as give them a safe place to talk about their ideas.
Occasionally they also have speakers come and talk to the students. Last semester they had Will Witt from Prager University speak. They hope to have another speaker come this semester.
“We’re not sure if this is a word but we call it the freedom forority,” Householder said. “It’s just supposed to be kind of like a clubhouse for anyone who wants to surround themselves with this type of a group.”
“It’s kind of a liberty seminary or liberty MTC,” said Brooklyn Raymond, the Spark Freedom Coordinator for the institute.
If someone wants to get involved you can attend one of the student groups, or you can look into internships. They have human resources, communications, development, business analytics, economics, and many more areas.
“If you want to get involved or if you have even the slightest bit of interest you can just come into the office,” Raymond said.
To learn more, here are the links to their websites and social media pages.
BrushFires webpage: http://madisonliberty.org/brushfires/