On Palo Alto High School’s Club day, junior Yasmeen Gavande was one of many students out on the Quad promoting her club for this school year. Gavande’s new club, the Palo Alto Young Americans for Freedom Chapter, or YAF for short, aims to promote conservative ideas and viewpoints in a region where liberal viewpoints are commonplace. The Paly Voice sat down with Gavande to learn her reasons behind creating the club and what the club hopes to accomplish this year.
Gavande said she had always wanted to create a conservative club on Paly campus and became even more inclined to do so after attending a two-night summer YAF conference at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara.
“When I attended one of the Young Americans Foundation’s Conferences, I became even more inspired to create a club to kind of combat the liberal status quo here at our school, which is very strong,” Gavande said.
As a conservative herself, Gavande has experienced the challenges of deferring from the Paly political norm.
“I have been called a racist … and a misogynist,” Gavande said. “Just identifying with certain types of viewpoints or endorsing certain policies, you are alienated and you are called a racist.”
Sophomore Jackson Druker, treasurer of YAF, said he has also been bullied while expressing his conservative views at Paly. To test Paly’s political tolerance last spring, Druker wore his Make America Great Again hat to school for a month, and recorded the reactions of the people around him. According to Druker, he experienced both verbal and physical threats.
“I experienced many verbal threats,” Druker said. “My hat was stolen about a dozen or more times, it was stepped on, thrown in a trash can … attempted to be ripped, burned. … I was struck in the head from behind, my hat was stolen and put out like a cigarette.”
Because of her own experience and others like Druker’s, Gavande felt compelled to create a place where conservative-minded people can express their views.
“I really want to give an outlet and a voice to students who are conservative and feel as though their voices have been oppressed, and are fearful of people who would bully them for being conservative,” Gavande said.
According to Gavande, many students have not been exposed to conservatism and should have the opportunity of an equal education in both liberal and conservative ideas.
“I think students don’t actually understand what conservatism is and students haven’t ever been offered the opportunity to be educated on conservative ideas,” Gavande said. “I think if students did know about what conservative ideas are and the facts that back them up, a lot of students would actually be conservative.”
According to Gavande, the four principles of conservatism are a free market economy, a strong national defense, a limited government, and a preservation of traditional American values.
“The ideas of conservatism … those are all ideas that are keeping our country thriving right now,” Gavande said. “I think it’s very important to conserve the basic founding principles of the United States.”
YAF club meets at lunch on Fridays in Room 854.