This is the second installment in The Activist’s series of chapter reports from all across the country. The selection here is focused on the “New Deal for CUNY” campaign which has gotten students from all across New York City Involved, especially those at Hunter College. The reports have been lightly edited for clarity.
Anthony Martinez, Hunter College
The reputation and state of the City University of New York (CUNY) is at jeopardy, but they can both be spared with a New Deal for CUNY. Hunter YDSA features a strong group of upcoming young leaders who have put blood sweat and tears into organizing for there to be a better future at CUNY. They have dedicated hours and hours every week to spread awareness about the New Deal for CUNY campaign to other classmates, have been on multiple marches throughout NYC, and even went to Albany twice to try to pressure elected officials to stand in solidarity with the campaign. For me personally, being a part of this campaign and organization has very quickly made me grow as a person and organizer and be more confident in my politics. . A year ago, I would’ve never stepped foot onto a bus towards Albany to talk to State Assembly members, but I did because this organization is extraordinary. I can clearly see that Hunter YDSA is creating lifelong socialist organizers, and every single one of these leaders will help build a better world.
Daniel Sapunkov, Hunter College
Our current chapter at CUNY Hunter College is growing and blossoming. Throughout the past 9 months, our chapter saw steady growth; we have 5 core members, 12 active committed members, and even more sympathizers and visitors. Such growth can be attributed to the adoption of the city-wide campaign called “New Deal 4 CUNY (NY4C). The ND4C aims to reverse the age of austerity in NYC. We organize to eliminate tuition, fund infrastructure of our buildings, achieve greater pay for our professors, and hire more mental health faculty. This campaign quickly became a priority campaign in NYC-DSA and as a chapter we put a lot of effort into it. We organize a weekly tabling and talk to students about our issues with the school’s neglect of its students’ needs. We organize weekly meetings where we present what ND4C is about. This allows many students to ask questions and share their stories. And because our chapter provides answers to crises at CUNY, we are able to turn seemingly apolitical students into great organizers, leaders, and lifelong socialists. Our work allows us to reach out to many students and professors, learning skills like canvassing, phonebanking, and meeting facilitation along the way.
Nicholas Woodfin, Hunter College
Hunter College is in the City University of New York (CUNY) system and has suffered from underfunding, but the Hunter College YDSA chapter has grown exponentially and is only growing stronger. This can be attributed to the New Deal For CUNY campaign which is a campaign fighting to fully fund college in New York State. We have benefitted from aligning with the Cuny Rising Alliance to push for a ND4C. We have primarily done canvassing, outreach, and pressure on elected officials. We are demonstrating the poor facilities of the campus to the public. This campaign has been vital to development and our chapter has learned how to use targeted campaigns for recruitment. We also have learned the immense value of coalition building which has gotten us further than ever before. Our students are members of the working class and this campaign has resonated with them to push for a more dignified life. That is why so many of our members stay after their first meeting; they are learning with our successes that as CUNY students and YDSA members, we do have a voice and power.