The Activist prides itself on being a publication by YDSA, for YDSA. Therefore, one of our main objectives is to shine a light on the great work our chapters are doing across the country. So, in this post, we present to you our second batch of chapter reports! To check out the first batch, click here.
If your chapter was not featured in this roundup, don’t fret! We will have a new roundup out each month. If you would like to submit a chapter report to be featured in The Activist, you can do so here! But, for now, we hope you enjoy these reflections from our friends at William & Mary, Kent State University, University of Cincinnati, and University of New Hampshire.
YDSA William & Mary
YDSA W&M’s Labor Organizing subcommittee helped the William & Mary Workers’ Union go public in October. We supported the movement to unionize by petitioning over 1,000 undergrads and flyering our campus. We sent members in solidarity to meet with the W&M Board of Visitors and discuss the union’s concerns and negotiations moving forward. A few members of our Labor Organizing subcommittee also participated in a picket line of striking ATU members in Lorton, VA. Our other subcommittee, Prison Labor, is continuing its efforts to reclassify VA prisoners from “slaves of the state” to employees– ultimately giving them the right to minimum wage, the ability to unionize, and other necessary workplace protections. As the Virginia house has just flipped blue, we are contacting delegates and have a prison labor reform bill proposed soon. Finally, in order to ensure the safety of all of our members, we created a comprehensive Grievance Policy to appropriately address sexual misconduct and interpersonal violence in and around our spaces. We now have elected a Grievance Officer and require our members to participate in a multi-session training for club voting rights. – Kat Baganski
Kent State University 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. – Zoey Kuhl
University of Cincinnati YDSA
UC YDSA is in the middle of a grassroots campaign against financialization on campus. Our school spends a tremendous amount of money on huge infrastructure projects, a $30 million yearly athletic subsidy, and other expensive, non-essential administrative projects that drain money away from the colleges and the educational mission of our institution. We are currently working with our undergraduate student government to negotiate a budgeting model that will give colleges a greater share of the revenue they generate. We are also building a coalition of progressive organizations on campus to help students outside of UC YDSA to push for strategic, systemic change in the way our university is run. Through this Activist Coalition, we’ve created a website/information page (boldlybankrupt.com) to educate students about the financialization of higher education and connect them to the decision making bodies that abuse their tuition money for quick profit. – Ben Lewton
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. We held this rally to continue our group efforts, and we will continue to push forward with our efforts. It makes no sense to cut lecturers and provide little to no job security when the University keeps improving sports centers and give raises too admins. We will continue to fight for the people around us. Our fight for our lecturers only begins here, much like our fight for a student debtors’ union and the establishment of tenants’ union. We fight with solidarity for and from our comrades. – Luke Cai
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. We are planning to expand our campaign to the statewide level in the spring, building coalitions with campus and community groups across Georgia while building the reputation of socialists in the South. – Sumter A