Class Struggle in Session – 2019 Winter Conference Program

Friday, February 15

7:00 PM – Welcome, Reception and Icebreaker

Kick off the 2019 Winter Conference with a socialist social! We’ll hear opening remarks from our National Coordinating Committee co-chairs and get to know fellow student organizers. Food and beverages will be served.

Saturday, February 16

8:30 AM – Check in and breakfast

9:00 AM – Opening Remarks and Community Agreements

9:30 AM – Socialists in Office: What would Bernie 2020 mean for YDSA?

Socialists have recently swept elections, dumping neoliberal democrats for a new strand of left-wing politics, but how do we leverage these gains to build our power for the  fight for socialism? How do we prepare for the opportunities and risks of the next two years and run winning campaigns centered around mass demands like college for all, medicare for all, and a green New Deal? And what would a socialist presidential campaign mean for socialists in office, YDSA, and what comes after for our movement.

Moderator- Nina Svirsky (YDSA Labor Committee Chair)


Tascha Van Auken (DSA National Electoral Committee Member)

David Duhalde is the Political Director of Our Revolution, a grassroots organization inspired by Bernie Sanders historic 2016 presidential campaign. He previously was DSA’s Deputy Director, National Youth Organizer, and was active in YDSA on both the chapter and NCC levels.

Jack McShane is the co-chair of East Bay DSA’s 2020 Committee, helping to lead the effort to develop a robust independent socialist campaign for Bernie Sanders and other candidates and ballot measures for the 2020 election cycle. In 2018, he co-chaired the chapter’s endorsement process and electoral campaigns and served as a staffer on the campaign to elect Jovanka Beckles to CA State Assembly.

Meagan Day is a staff writer at Jacobin Magazine and an active member of East Bay DSA.

11:00 AM – Workshop Block 1

Building a Mass Organization

What does a socialist organization look like? How can YDSA build a mass base? And what do ‘program’ and ‘praxis’ mean anyway? You’ll get the answers to these questions and more in this unique-to-DSA workshop.

Speakers- Maria Svart (DSA National Director), Amelia Blair-Smith (NCC At-Large Member)

Organizing a College for All Campaign

This workshop will help deliver hands-on skills, guidance, and answers for members who’s chapters are running a College for All campaign. We’ll review key lessons from the College for All organizing manual, and break winning campaigns down into their most fundamental parts.

Speakers- Esperanza Rosenbaum (CUNY YDSA), Anna Bonomo (YDSA Staff)

Electoral Organizing through 2019 and Beyond

YDSA has a key role to play in electoral politics. In this workshop we’ll talk about what YDSA can bring to electoral campaigns that no one else can, and what we need to do to make socialist politics mainstream by 2020. You’ll leave this workshop with the skills you need to organize for electoral victory on your campus and in your community.


Nina Svirsky is a senior at New York University and the Co-Chair of NYC YDSA. She was delighted to bring the “Rank and File Strategy” resolution to the floor at YDSA’s last Summer Convention, and is currently writing a thesis inspired by the incredible teacher strike wave spreading across the country. She serves as the Chair of YDSA’s National Labor Subcommittee, studies mathematics, and would love to talk to you about Bernie 2020. Solidarity!

Hannah Zimmerman is a sophomore at Stanford University where she majors in Public Policy and Anthropology. She is an electoral organizer, passionate about finding socialist approaches to organizing in elections. She is also very passionate about riding the Urban-Rural divide, currently working to found Stanford’s rural studies program, and serving as a member of DSA’s rural organizing committee.

The University and The Organizer

Universities have historically been sites of major political and social change in the United States, and for this reason administrations will not hesitate to crack down on students and workers who dare to challenge the status quo. We created this workshop to help you navigate your way out of the purgatory of university bureaucracy, along with how to strategically pressure your administration for demands.


Michelle Fisher is a senior at Wesleyan University, where she currently writes lots of poems and serves as co-chair of her YDSA chapter. She has also served as national co-chair (17-18), chaired numerous Y/DSA committees, devoped organizing resources and infrastructure for YDSA, and planned a fair number of conferences just like this one!

Matthew Wolfsen (NCC At-Large Member)

Defeating the Far Right on Campus

Campuses across the country are under siege by the far-right, as they try to use them as recruiting grounds for fascist politics. And as neoliberalism crumbles around us destroying many people’s long established beliefs of society and politics, many turn towards the far right in search of answers. As socialists, we know that another world is possible, and we have a unique role to play in the fight against despair and against fascism, on campus and beyond. In this workshop, we’ll talk about what socialists on campus can do right now to stop the spread of hate and fear on campus and build a  socialist future instead.

Speakers: Ajmal Alami (NCC Co-Chair), Eliott Geary (NCC Co-Chair)

1:00 PM – Lunch

2:00 PM – Class Struggle in Session

Tuition hikes are class war, and College for All is how we fight back. With student debt standing at a staggering 1.6 trillion dollars and counting, the clock is clicking until crisis. We can and will win free college for all, but only by organizing students to seize power from those who profit from the exploitation of students and campus workers. In this panel we’ll hear from student leaders who organized for power and won, discuss the implications of free college in America, and review YDSA’s national strategy to win College for All.

Moderator- Sebastián Uchida Chávez (NCC At-Large Member/YDSA College For All Committee Chair)

Speakers- Camile Godbout (Québec Solidaire), Matt Meyers (UK Labour Party)

3:30 PM – Workshop Block 2

The University and the Organizer

Speakers: Michelle Fisher (Wesleyan YDSA), Matthew Wolfsen (NCC At-Large Member)

Defeating the Far-Right on Campus

Speakers – Ajmal Alami (YDSA Co-Chair), Eliott Geary (YDSA Co-Chair)

Leadership Development and List Work

Good organizers do more than just lead, they create new and better organizers! Intentional leadership development is crucial to avoiding leader burnout, growing your chapter’s membership, and ensuring diversity in leadership. This workshop will teach you how to map your membership, develop new leaders, and hold leadership conversations.

Speakers – Amy Zachmeyer (DSA staff), Jack Bouman (Midwest ROC co-chair)

Student-Worker Solidarity During the Strike Wave

Student-worker solidarity is vital to socialist victory on campus and everywhere else. That’s why school administrators are committed to preventing us from organizing together and crushing solidarity before it becomes a threat to their power. In this workshop, we’ll talk about how to combat these divisive tactics and build towards real working class unity on campus.

Speakers- Elliot Lewis (UC Berkeley YDSA), Mason Mineo (UC Santa Monica YDSA), Robbie Nelson (East Bay DSA)

Winning Medicare for All

As the healthcare crisis in America worsens in, what are young socialists on college campuses to do? In this workshop, we’ll be giving a rundown on how to effectively do Medicare For All work within your campus community, whether it’s through Electoral, Labor, or College For All work, or otherwise.

Speakers – Halsey Hazard (NYU YDSA), Matt Stone (Medicare For All Regional Organizer)

7:00 PM – Keynote – Electrifying the Electorate


Jovanka Beckles

Cecily Myart-Cruz

Sunday, February 17

9:00 AM – Breakfast

10:00 AM – Workshop Block 3

Building a Mass Organization

Speakers- Maria Svart (DSA national director), Amelia Blair-Smith (NCC at-large member)

Leadership Development and List Work

Speakers- Amy Zachmeyer (DSA organizing staff), Jack Bouman (Midwest ROC co-chair)

Organizing a College for All Campaign

Speakers – Esperanza Rosenbaum (CUNY YDSA), Anna Bonomo (YDSA Staff)

Electoral Organizing through 2019 and Beyond

Speakers – Nina Svirsky (YDSA Labor Committee Chair), Hannah Zimmerman (Our Revolution Organizer)

Winning Medicare for All

Speakers- Halsey Hazard (NYU YDSA), Matt Stone (Medicare For All Regional Organizer)

11:30 AM – Fire from the Rank and File

In the last year, apathy has turned into popular class struggle from below as the neoliberal consensus begins to crumble and reveal the contradictions of capital. The labor movement and it’s resurgence has come from none other than the rank-and-file, and with the push into a new realm of politics and response from the capitalist class, participants on this panel will discuss what we should do so as socialists.

Moderator- Ella Mahony (DSA National Political Committee)


Tim Marshall (OEA Teacher)

Ashley Payne: Born in Berkeley and raised in Richmond, Ashley Payne is Chief Shop Steward of her public sector union chapter in Contra Costa County and Co-Chair of EBDSA’s Labor Committee. Additionally, Ashley is active in EBDSA’s Racial Solidarity Committee and the national DSA AfroSocialist caucus. Prior to committing to the Rank & File strategy, she studied Fine Arts at Amherst College and pursued graduate work in

Hannah Kline

1:00 PM – Lunch

2:00 PM – Workshop Block 4

Building a Mass Organization

Speakers- Maria Svart (DSA National Director), Amelia Blair-Smith (NCC)

Leadership Development and List Work

Speakers- Amy Zachmeyer (DSA organizing staff), Jack Bouman (Midwest ROC co-chair)

Organizing a College for All Campagin

Speakers- Esperanza Rosenbaum (CUNY YDSA), Anna Bonomo (YDSA staff)

Electoral Organizing in 2019 and Beyond

Speakers- Nina Svirsky (YDSA Labor committee chair), Hannah Zimmerman (Our Revolution organizer)

Student-Worker Solidarity During the Strike Wave

Speakers- Elliot Lewis (UC Berkeley YDSA), Mason Mineo (UC Santa Monica YDSA), Robbie Nelson (East Bay DSA)

3:30 PM – Closing Remarks and Song!