YDSA Constitution

Article I. Name

Sec. 1- The name of the organization shall be the Young Democratic Socialists of America, here forth referred to as YDSA.

Article II. Relationship to Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)

Sec. 1 – YDSA is the Youth Section of the Democratic Socialists of America and, as such, is bound to the principles and governance of DSA as prescribed in the DSA constitution and bylaws.

Sec. 2 – YDSA shall establish its own governance and structure within DSA, and shall develop its own program relevant to students, campus communities, and youth.

Sec. 3 – YDSA shall implement the priorities and political program of DSA, as resolved by the national organization in a way relevant to YDSA, and when appropriate adopt and implement independent YDSA political priorities and strategies.

Article III. Aims & Objectives

Sec. 1 –  YDSA is the Youth Section of DSA that shall serve to further the following aims:

Sec. 1a – To build the power of students, campus communities, and youth to fight for equality, justice, and democratic socialism.

Sec. 1b – To develop, determine, and promote the policies and positions of YDSA and DSA.

Sec. 1c – To provide support and assistance to chapters of YDSA, to assist and support the organization of new chapters, and to facilitate cooperation between chapters across the United States.

Sec. 1d –  To promote DSA among students, campus communities, and youth.

Sec. 1e – To educate and train YDSA members to prepare them for a lifetime of organizing in the service of a democratic socialist future.

Article IV. Membership

Sec. 1 – Membership in YDSA shall be open to any DSA members who are full or part-time students, campus workers (including, but not limited to, adjunct faculty, teaching assistants, and non-traditional students), or youth, who accept the aims, constitution, resolutions, and the decisions of the organization and accept the aims of the platform of the organization. Members over 30 years of age may not hold elective office in the organization.

Sec. 2 – Membership shall be determined on the basis of chapter application. All DSA members on the membership list of a chartered YDSA chapter, or who hold national office, shall be YDSA members.

Sec. 3a – Members may be expelled from YDSA membership if they are found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of the organization, or if they consistently engage in undemocratic, disruptive behavior or if they are members of any external organization that publicly endeavors to undermine the efforts of DSA or YDSA made according to the decisions of its internal democracy, or if they are found to be employed or contracted as a federal, state, or local law enforcement officer. 

Sec. 3b – Members shall retain the right of freedom of association amongst themselves and the right to organize internal caucuses, factions, or groups that express support for or opposition to existing or new organizational policies in a comradely fashion and without inhibiting the work or democratic functioning of DSA or YDSA.

Sec. 4 – YDSA shall have a Membership Policy which outlines the process in which a member may be expelled from the organization. Members facing expulsion must receive written notice of charges against them and must be given the opportunity to be heard before an unbiased, impartial body designated by the NCC for the purpose of considering all expulsions.

Sec. 5 – Any member expelled from YDSA may appeal their expulsion from YDSA to the NCC or Annual Convention on the following, limited bases:

Sec. 5a – A procedural error, misconduct, or conflicts of interest affecting the procedural fairness.

Sec. 5b – The recommended remedy or penalty was grossly disproportionate to the reported violation.

Article V. Organization

Sec. 1 – The basic unit of organization for YDSA is the chapter. Chapters shall be formed on the basis of educational institution(s). Such definition shall denote the primary but not exclusive jurisdiction of the chapter. A chapter may at any time redefine its jurisdiction by notifying the NCC or Annual Convention. In case of overlapping jurisdiction, the NCC shall mediate the dispute.

Sec. 1a – New chapters shall be approved by a simple majority vote of the NCC or Annual Convention. Upon approval, the chapter shall receive an official charter from the national organization. Chartered chapters are entitled to support from the National Office. Each charter shall expire no less than a year and two months from issuance.

Sec. 1b – No less than three (3) DSA members may apply by petition for a new chapter’s charter. A full membership list, chapter constitution, and list of elected officers shall accompany the petition. The NCC may require additional information or a questionnaire where necessary to validate the authenticity of a petition or a potential new chapter’s agreement with the aims and objectives of YDSA.

Sec. 1c – To renew an established chapter’s charter, the established chapter shall submit an updated membership list with at least (3) DSA members, an updated chapter constitution, and an updated list of elected officers to the national office before the charter’s expiration. Upon the reception of the required materials, the national office shall issue a renewed charter for the chapter, given that the chapter remains in agreement with the aims and objectives of YDSA and the materials are all in order according to a set of public guidelines written and disseminated by the NCC. The renewed charter shall expire  no less than a year and two months from issuance. Any established chapter whose charter has expired shall apply by petition for a charter as if they were a new chapter.

Sec. 1d – Chapters are expected to develop their own program relevant to their specific locality and needs. This program should fall within the aims and objectives set out by YDSA and the YDSA Annual Convention.

Sec. 1e – Chapter charters granted by YDSA may be revoked by a two-thirds vote of the NCC or the Annual Convention.

Article VI. Annual Convention

Sec. 1 – YDSA shall meet in Convention annually.

Sec. 2 – The Annual Convention shall be the highest decision-making body of YDSA unless otherwise specified in this Constitution. It shall prescribe policy, elect and delegate powers to national officers of the organizations and serve as a forum for internal education.

Sec. 3 – The number of delegates for each YDSA chapter for the Annual Convention shall be apportioned at least sixty (60) days before the Annual Convention. The apportionment shall be based on a ratio of chapter membership to delegates determined by the NCC. The delegates of each chapter shall be elected by the chapter’s membership. Delegates of chapters shall have speaking and voting rights at the Annual Convention. These rights shall be subject to review at the Annual Convention meeting.

Sec. 4 – An announcement of the beginning of the pre-convention period shall be distributed to all YDSA members by the NCC at least ninety (90) days before the opening of the first session. This announcement shall included guidelines for submissions and candidates for national office.

Sec. 5 – The outgoing NCC shall select members of a Convention Planning Team. The Annual Convention shall also adopt a set of rules for plenary discussion and decision-making. The Annual Convention shall appoint the National Director (or their proxy) and the National Campus Organizer (or their proxy) as a Presidium to govern and administrate the Convention while it is in session.

Sec. 6 – Every year, YDSA may hold an annual National Winter Conference or an annual set of Regional Winter Conferences for the purposes of outreach, education, and fellowship. These conferences shall not be decision making bodies, but may serve as a format for discussion. The NCC, in consultation with the NPC, may convene Conference Planning Teams with representatives from both bodies to coordinate decisions regarding the theme, program, and logistics of the conferences

Article VII. National Coordinating Committee

Sec. 1 – The National Coordinating Committee (NCC) shall be made up of the national officers. It shall be the highest decision-making political body of the organization between Annual Conventions. Quorum for the Committee shall be 50% plus one of the national officers. The National Campus Organizer serves as a non-voting ex officio member of the NCC.

Sec. 2 – The national officers shall consist of two Co-Chairs and seven at-large members. The two Co-Chairs shall be elected by ranked choice voting, and the at-large members by single transferable vote.

Sec. 2a – Candidates for national office shall have been members of the organization for at least one month prior to the date of the election.

Sec. 2b – At least 50% of the NCC must be self-identified women or gender non-binary people (including one of the co-chairs), and at least 45% of the NCC must also be people of color.

Sec. 3 – The duties of the officers of the NCC shall be as follows:

Sec. 3a – The Co-Chairs shall be the chief spokespeople of YDSA. They shall also be responsible for coordinating the administration and policy of YDSA. They shall report to the Annual Convention and to any national or regional winter conference the status of YDSA. The Co-Chairs shall represent the YDSA NCC on the National Political Committee of the DSA.

Sec. 3b – At-large members may take on responsibilities according to their specific skills, in consultation with the rest of the NCC and the National Campus Organizer. Attention should be paid to identifying YDSA ongoing needs as well as specific needs in the coming year when dividing up responsibilities. All NCC members will serve on a national committee either as a committee member and liaison or as a committee leader if called for by that committee’s charter. Four of the responsibilities that shall be divided up among the at-large members are the following:

Sec. 3b(i) – If YDSA possesses a discretionary budget, a treasurer shall oversee the finances of YDSA and shall submit a monthly financial status update to both the NPC, NCC and the National Office of DSA. The NCC representatives to the NPC will request that the YDSA treasurer attends DSA Budget and Finance Committee meetings as an ex officio member.

Sec. 3b(ii) – The NCC shall rotate notetakers and timekeepers monthly.

Sec. 3b(iii) – A membership secretary shall be responsible for assisting staff in overseeing the chapter chartering process, petitions to start new chapters, and membership records.

Sec. 3b(iv) – A communications secretary shall coordinate and maintain all of YDSA’s social media accounts and maintain a YDSA social media policy with the support of any relevant national committees. The NCC representatives to the NPC will request that the communications secretary attends DSA communications meetings when relevant.

Sec. 4 – The agendas for the NCC conference calls shall be proposed by the YDSA Co-Chairs, with the call itself being chaired by one of the YDSA Co-Chairs. The agenda shall include, but not be limited to: discussion of activities, finances, and the general direction of YDSA. The NCC conference calls shall be held regularly and be open to YDSA members for observation.

Sec. 5 – The National Campus Organizer shall be the chief administrative official of the organization and shall be appointed by a joint YDSA/National DSA personnel Committee. They shall be directly supervised by the national officers in implementing program and policy made by the Annual Convention and take particular responsibility for chapter building and recruitment.

Sec. 5a – The National Campus Organizer shall produce and distribute to the NCC, YDSA membership, and the National Political Committee of DSA each quarter a written report on their progress, challenges and assessments. Should sensitive materials which might harm YDSA or DSA be included in the report, the National Campus Organizer may decide to produce and distribute a redacted version available for the membership instead.

Sec. 6 – Upon the national office’s reception of a petition of a majority of the membership or of chapters representing two-thirds of the membership, any member of the NCC shall be recalled.

Sec. 6a – If a position on the NCC is vacated for any reason a majority of the remaining officers may solicit nominations and elect a replacement from the whole YDSA membership. The rules of nomination shall follow those of the most recently convened convention.

Sec. 7 – NCC members shall host office hours via conference call for the membership to directly engage with them.

Sec. 7a – The office hours shall be hosted at least four times between annual conventions, and shall be publicized to the membership.

Sec. 7b – Membership shall receive one month prior notice of scheduled NCC office hours.

Sec. 8 – Polls of the membership on specific issues may be held upon petition of one-half of chapters or one-third of the membership. Such polls shall be advisory and not binding.

Article VIII. Committees & Working Groups

Sec. 1 – The Annual Convention or NCC shall form committees as deemed necessary to supervise specific longstanding work outlined in an annual charter adopted by Convention, or under a temporary charter until the next Annual Convention if formed by the NCC; these shall report to the Annual Convention and the NCC. The National Campus Organizer shall serve as an ex officio member of each committee.

Sec. 1a – The NCC may at any time vote to dissolve any temporarily chartered committee by a majority vote, or may suspend a Committee with an annual charter should it find it to have violated that charter or the rules, bylaws, or Constitution of the organization. Committees shall have at least 3 members, appointed by the NCC open to application by the membership, including at least one Committee Chair, tasked with coordinating the work of the Committee and a Committee Secretary, tasked with maintaining the records of the Committee and providing them to the NCC and, if requested, the DSA NPC. The NCC may dismiss a Committee Chair, the Committee Secretary, or any other officer or member of the Committee by simple majority vote.

Sec. 2 – The NCC shall appoint an Executive Editor to manage the work of the Activist blog. The Executive Editor may establish an editorial board to assist in the direction of the Activist and assign responsibilities as they see fit. The NCC may remove either the Executive Editor or any member of the editorial board by a simple majority vote.

Sec. 3 – Temporary Working Groups may be established by the Annual Convention or by the NCC and must be accompanied by a charter that determines its mission, membership, structure, and designate an expiry date of no longer than one year or until the next convention. If the charter expires and the working group is not rechartered within one month, it shall be dissolved and its records shall be transferred to the NCC.

Sec. 3a – The NCC will establish a governance structure and accountability provisions for Working Groups.

Sec. 3b – Working Groups may be dissolved by a majority vote of the Annual Convention or two-thirds vote of the NCC, except that the NCC may revoke the charter of a Working Group by a majority vote if that charter was granted by the NCC.

Article IX. Authority

Sec. 1 – YDSA is not responsible for any document, policy, publication, or any other expression of political opinion except such as are issued by the authority of the Annual Convention and the regularly constituted leadership of the organization.

Article X. Amendments

Sec. 1 – The Constitution may be amended at an Annual Convention by a three-fifths vote of the Convention, provided that written notice of such amendments has been given to members one (1) month prior to the Convention.

Last Amended: August 3rd, 2023 by the YDSA Annual Convention in Chicago, IL