Columbia-Barnard University YDSA
Columbia’s tuition is one of the most expensive in the country. The pandemic threw into stark reality the inequity and injustice of the University’s priorities, as they continue to pay administrators multi-million-dollar salaries and invest billions of dollars in gentrifying expansion projects. We began our tuition strike on January 22nd. Throughout the strike, we came up against various billing deadlines and registration deadlines. For each, we conducted a vote amongst our strikers asking whether we should continue. We received support from students, local community groups, faculty members, staff members, and local politicians whose support lent additional credibility and helped make the story more newsworthy. In addition to our strike, we also held a virtual teach-in with more than three dozen speakers and hundreds of attendees, and we held an in-person rally and press conference with a spate of elected officials. We won a number of our demands. Columbia announced that they would provide limited grants to students in the College of General Studies to take summer classes, something we demanded. On the day that the tuition strike began, Columbia agreed to divest from fossil fuels, a demand that we were aware Columbia was working on prior to our tuition strike. Throughout the strike, we were successful in getting the University to waive late fees. Our most substantial win, though, came only a few days after the strike ended, when Columbia announced that they would increase financial aid by $1.4 billion over the next four years.
Boston University YDSA
The BU YDSA chapter has been working to make laundry free for all Boston University students living on campus. The University charges $1.75 per cycle, which we believe is an unnecessary additional cost of attendance. Charging this much for a service which is necessary to decrease the spread of COVID-19 is absurd, and even in normal times, this price is higher than what most other colleges and universities in the US charge their students. Laundry costs disproportionately affect low-income students, who may have fewer items of clothing and therefore wash their clothes more frequently. Students have no say in the University’s budgeting process, and we are demanding that the University listen to students’ input on the budget which affects their daily lives. We want to instill in students the belief that collective action results in tangible improvements in their lives. Our first push was through social media – our first post garnered about 1400 likes, reached 7500 accounts, and was shared over 500 times. Our student government endorsed our demands, as well as many other campus organizations which bolstered our credibility with the administration and Deans who have control over the budget process. Next, we published an op-ed contradicting points made by critics and launched our own website where we published more information, op-eds, and goals. We submitted our Free Laundry For All proposal to the student government, and they endorsed it. We also sent the word out to every single organization at Boston University asking that they endorse our campaign as well. Our student government endorsed our demands, as well as many other campus organizations which bolstered our credibility with the administration and Deans who have control over the budget process. So far we have collected over 2,200 student signatures, making it clear that the student body is interested in making laundry completely free.
Western Washington University YDSA
WWU YDSA is growing steadily throughout this year! After just beginning in April 2018, our most recent meeting in October had 27 attendees! We are so excited to be canvassing for Bernie Sanders almost every weekend, having knocked on over 200 doors so far. Our members have done a ton of volunteer work on the Chanan Suarez for Bellingham City Council campaign, endorsed by national DSA. We work closely with the club Shred The Contract to remove Aramark from our campus by the end of 2019. We hope to either switch to self operated dining like the rest of the public universities in Washington, or unionize the dining staff. Some upcoming events we have planned are a Democratic Debate watch party, a co-hosted event with Planned Parenthood club, and hopefully bringing the leftist radio host David Balsamian to speak at our campus! We are ready to bring socialism to Bellingham!
YDSA at University of Virginia
Since the semester started, YDSA at UVA has been focused on growing members by campaigning for popular demands. Early on, we set goals for both the number of contacts and the number of active members (defined as those voting at our monthly general meetings) that we want to have by the end of the semester. Since then, we’ve tabled almost every week, on multiple days most weeks. When people have attended two events, we reach out to them and have tried to do one-on-ones to ask if they’d like to be more involved. Some of our members canvassed for the DSA-endorsed candidate for Charlottesville city council, Michael Payne, who won a seat a few days ago. Recently, we launched a College for All campaign, which has the first goal of keeping the cost of attending UVA the same next year. We’ve gathered hundreds of signatures for a petition that emails all of the members of the Board of Visitors and the University president.
YDSA Georgia Tech
One of YDSA GT’s campaigns for the fall semester was waging a campaign to open institute attendance to undocumented students. Georgia, through its Board of Regents Policy 4.1.6, is one of the only states in the US to outright ban undocumented students from higher education. As such, we worked to educate the student body on the particularly reactionary nature of this ban. Beginning the semester with nearly 20 attendees to our meetings, the campaign committee conducted and compiled research on the ban and Georgia’s education governance, ran a publicity campaign, hosted a self-run teach-in and an educational talk by Freedom University (a freedom school for undocumented students), and got our student government to pass a resolution calling for ban to be rescinded.
YDSA at the University of New Hampshire
Lecturers at our university have been working without contract for over 800 days. They make up around 25% of the university population but taught around 50% of classes. We stood in solidarity to protect our lecturers in accordance with the retention, diversity, and social justice that the University of New Hampshire champions. Over the years, the university gutted lecturers and will now let go of many beloved Japanese professors. Enough is enough. Through an aggressive group effort through petitions, letters to the Dean, and lecturer meetings, we culminated our efforts in a rally of around 50 people to give testimonies regarding lecturer cuts and and show general support for our professors.
Kent State YDSA
This fall, Kent State YDSA has renewed our movement to fight for a 15 dollar an hour minimum wage on campus. In previous years, KSU YDSA has supported this movement along with other groups, mainly the University Students Against Sweatshops (USAS). Previously, the fight for 15 campaign had made notable achievements, such as changing work contracts so that uniforms were not paid for out of student workers’ paychecks. This year however, KSU YDSA has decided to take a lead role in organizing the fight for 15 movement. This past fall, DSA members attended organizing training, as well as begun tabling for student worker rights. KSU YDSA plans on contacting other local unions, leftist organizations, and local politicians to support our effort. It is important for us as socialists to recognize that our colleges are not only institutions of academia, but are unfortunately institutions whose primary goal is to seek profit. We must hold our universities accountable to the student body, and demand better working conditions, and better wages.
Last August in Charlottesville, Virginia, KKK members, neo-nazis, and the “alt-right” showed up to protest the removal of Confederate statues. One of these white supremacists purposefully drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, injuring 19 people and killing one, Heather Heyer. YDSA Bloomington organized a march in response before classes had even begun, to stand in solidarity with the people of Charlottesville. Hundreds of people, including students and other community members, marched to show the incoming class of freshman at IU that white supremacy and neo-Nazism would not be tolerated.
Yale Democratic Socialists
New Haven, CT
In September, Yale Democratic Socialists worked with coalition partners to put on a dance party to raise funds for DACA renewals. Not only did they raise over $3,500 (enough to fund seven DACA renewals) but they also were able to then mobilize students to put their bodies on the line in an act of civil disobedience that successfully prevented ICE from deporting a local family. Five Yale students were among a group of 36 who physically blocked ICE agents from entering a family’s home until a New York judge granted the family a stay.
Hays High School YDSA
YDSA is not only active on college campuses – we also have some incredible high school chapters! Hays YDSA in Buda, TX helped organize a walkout of over 250 students as part of the national March for Our Lives mobilization. They also raised hundreds of dollars for the victims of the Parkland shooting by selling YDSA buttons.
Wake Forest University YDSA
In North Carolina, Wake Forest YDSA students worked with community partners to form the Winston Against Structural Violence Coalition to educate, agitate, and organize for justice in the wake of a police murder of an unarmed Black man. Wake Forest YDSA has mobilized for die-ins, packed courtrooms, protested and met with city councilmembers to demand police accountability and justice for Edward McCrae.
New York University YDSA
New York, NY
In February, New York University’s YDSA chapter canvassed in public housing projects in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan to mobilize around universal health care —Medicare For All. Residents were able to vocalize the massive burden that our for-profit medical system has had on their lives. Canvassers, in turn, shared DSA’s vision for what a truly just health care system might look like.
UTC Young Democratic Socialists
The YDSA chapter at UT Chattanooga held an anti-fascism event in the wake of several attempts by various far-right groups to organize on their campus. Students speak on the fascist presence on campus, the far-right groups in the area, and how to identify them. The chair of the local DSA chapter spoke on the fascism the state already engages in, including ICE, police brutality, and imperialism.