The Ayn Rand Club at UF is devoted to studying the philosophy of Objectivism. Ayn Rand named her philosophy "Objectivism" because it proceeds from the axiom that "existence exists" and champions objectivity in all areas--cognition, values, law, and art. She described Objectivism as "a philosophy for living on earth," and part of Objectivism is the recognition that a rational philosophy of life is a crucial, practical need of every individual.
P.J. Riemer is president.
James Hungerford is treasurer.
Tom Cowan is member at large.
There have been numerous small clubs devoted to studying Ayn Rand and Objectivism at the University of Florida since the sixties. The Ayn Rand Club, an organization for fans of Ayn Rand, was started by Zev Schechter as a way to meet more people who had their lives shaped by reading Rand. The Ayn Rand Club held a few meetings under the temporary organization status in 2000.
After September 11th 2001, distressed by the lack of rational ideas and intellectual ammunition on campus to help win the war on terror, Zev invited Dr. Gary Hull to speak at UF on a disturbing topic related to terrorism. The theme of his lecture, "Twin Towers Destroyed by the Ivory Tower", was that the same basic philosophy motivating the terrorists was being taught in American Universities. A highly energetic talk led to vigorous exchanges between Dr. Hull and the audience during the Q & A: Objectivism"s uncompromising stances on issues such as multiculturalism, post-modernism, and Terrorism were expressed before a crowd of around 120.
The enthusiasm carried over to Zev"s last semester at the University of Florida. Weekly meetings were initiated with lively discussion on Objectivism and it"s applications. In the fall of 2002, the Ayn Rand Club was taken over by Thomas Cowan. The club gained official school status after one year of temporary status, and was eligible for school funds.
In spring 2003, Dr. Yaron Brook, the Ayn Rand Institute"s Executive Director, spoke at UF. His talk, "Why We Are Losing the War on Terrorism" stressed the long-term "battle of ideas" as the ultimate fight in the war on terror. A principled stance on freedom and individual rights led to heated debate over America vs. Fundamentalist Islam and Israel vs. the Arabs.
The fan base was growing - the email list-serve was approaching 100, and growing numbers of students came out to hear intriguing presentations such as "Love as Selfish". In summer of 2003, devoted students Dan Gibson and Britt Hanley joined Thomas as Vice President and Treasurer respectively, in the fight for a rational culture and in the local battle of ideas at UF. In fall of the same year, the three brought in Dr. Edwin Locke to speak on the topic of morality. His talk "Religion vs. Post-Modernism vs. Objectivism: Which is the Proper Code of Morality for Living on Earth?" was delivered to a packed hall of over 200. Afterward, Dr. Locke remarked that it was the largest crowd he could remember ever speaking to on the topic of Objectivism. Most of the audience stayed for Q & A to learn more about Ayn Rand's radical concept of rational self-interest.
Ayn Rand's revolutionary philosophy continues to be heard and discussed at UF today. Dan Gibson took over the presidency in spring 2004, with Thomas stepping down to VP, and Britt continuing as club treasurer, secretary, and webmaster. Dan and Britt drastically improved the existing club web site, www.aynrandclub.com, and added an online forum to increase availability of the ideas to students.
The club is currently being formed at UF again. Beginning in the spring semester of 2012, it will continue its intellectual activism at the University of Florida with video lectures, discussions, and guest speakers on the topic of Ayn Rand's life-affirming philosophy of Objectivism.