YDSA In Action: Chapter Reports Roundup #1

The Activist is a publication by and for YDSA members, and part of our mission to highlight the work our members are doing on campuses around the country. So, we’re compiling reports from a variety of chapters on the various campaigns they’re working on, and today we’re excited to share the first batch!

We’ll have another roundup next month, so if you want your chapter to be featured, have someone submit a report here! But for now, enjoy these reflections from comrades at Western Washington University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Temple University, and University of Virginia. 

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! – Neah Havens

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign YDSA

This year the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana (UIUC) YDSA has started an aggressive tabling campaign to register voters and advocate for left-wing causes in Central Illinois. Every Wednesday and Friday, typically starting at 10 a.m., chapter members have set up on the UIUC main quad and have successfully registered over 100 voters. Additionally, we have used tabling to partner with the community Champaign-Urbana DSA to collect signatures for lifting the Illinois state ban on rent control and to run our endorsed U.S congressional candidate Stefanie Smith in our district’s Democratic primary. Tabling has been a major success for not just in advocating for certain campaigns, but also presenting and mainstreaming our local chapter on campus which has been reflected in our growing chapter. This year, we have reached our highest-ever attendance and have expanded to include regular theory reading groups held weekly. Tabling has also been a huge influence on introducing our members to political activism for the first time as they learn how to communicate with the public and gain a passion for YDSA and improving their communities. Our tabling campaign has served as a stepping stone for future community involvement and making a name for our local chapter at the University of Illinois. – Jared Mitchell

Temple University 

On Friday, November 1st, Temple YDSA had its first rally for our Aramark Out! campaign. Temple University currently has a contract with Aramark, a corporation that provides services for over 500 private prisons and also works with ICE and DHS. Last year alone, our university gave the corporation 30 million dollars. We had a good showing at the rally, but we hope to have more of a physical presence at our next event! Several other student organizations including Temple SJP, Temple University Students Against Sweatshops, and Temple College Democrats have supported us so far. We’ve also gotten a good amount of support from our professor’s union and our graduate student association. We’ll be hosting a teach-in on mass incarceration and prison abolition with a local leftist organization, the Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement.

Our Bernie working group has also done great work. They’ve focused primarily on passing out flyers and tabling, building relations with other student orgs that support Bernie, and supporting the efforts of Philly DSA to canvass for Bernie. – Maxime Delafosse-Brown

University of Virginia YDSA

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. We’ve also held political education events on ecosocialism, the history of the labor movement, and socialist feminism. We held Democratic debate watch parties that lots of people turned out to. We intend to continue campaigning for Bernie Sanders, help start a YDSA at a nearby community college, and urge the university to divest from prison labor. – Griffin Mahon

University of Michigan YDSA

Our chapter is pleased to report that we have accomplished quite a bit in the opening few months of the school year. For starters, we have seen a huge uptick in membership. We have used this increase in numbers to mobilize around progressive US House candidate Solomon Rajput. A progressive Democrat running on Medicare for All and a Green New Deal, Rajput is taking on the Dingells’ 85-year political dynasty. Thus far, our members have knocked hundreds of doors for him and organized a town hall-style event so that he can directly address constituents and answer any questions they might have about his candidacy. Rajput’s inspiring campaign, and our involvement therein, has served to further reaffirm the fact that young people have the potential to incite tremendous change in our society. – Elias Khoury