Winter YDS Conference: Hotter Than Ever

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The most recent Young Democratic Socialists (YDS) winter conference, “Students Fighting Austerity: The Future of Democratic Socialism in Neoliberal America,” was held over Presidents’ Day weekend at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York.

The conference urged students and graduated activists to become active in the fight to end student debt, poverty, and environmental problems brought on by capitalism across social, economic and political lines. It provided a safe space for youth solidarity and also worked to connect YDS members and potential members to the larger mission of the national organization.

Speakers presented issues ranging from the media’s role in fast food workers’ fights for justice and workplace democracy to the environmental implications of working to pass new climate legislation. The main headline speakers, including Frances Fox Piven, Joanne Barkan, Jérémie Bédard-Wien and Cornel West, all spoke on the relevance of student activism and what it means as students face debt, unemployment, and benefit cuts. (For an interview with Cornel West conducted at the conference, see page three and a longer version on the Democratic Left blog at dsausa.org.)

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(L to R) Beth Cozzolino, YDS co-chair; Matt Porter, YDS co-chair; Jackie Sewell, YDS national organizer; Jérémie Bédard-Wien; Michael Walzer; Bhaskar Sunkara

Joanne Barkan said “It was very satisfying to speak to and with a large group of young democratic socialists. The attention to serious issues was apparent, and the most common question from the audience – ‘What can we do about this?’ – is exactly what needs to be asked.”

The conference this year had a stronger focus on issue briefings than on organizing workshops, but effectively taught young activists about the importance of internal and external democratic socialist education, leadership development, and campaign planning. It was also encouraging to see former YDS activists and DSA members such as Peter Frase and Bhaskar Sunkara speaking at workshops and plenaries, as well as talking about their success in publishing Jacobin magazine.

The conference saw delegations from new YDS chapters, like Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. Older chapters such as Wooster College YDS from Wooster, Ohio, and Temple University YDS from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania also sent delegations of old and new members excited to organize. Vassar College YDS in Poughkeepsie, New York sent the most people, with a total of 12 members attending the conference. These facts underscore that YDS and DSA are growing organizations and that the current national organizer and Coordinating Committee are doing strong work.

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The Women-Identified Women’s Caucus at the YDS winter conference

Overall, the conference went very smoothly and was greatly enjoyed by those who attended. Most importantly though, the conference left YDS members with clear ideas for campaigns and events to take back to their chapters that they will take on in the upcoming semester.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Get involved in DSA’s new student debt national campaign, for non-student and student activists alike, by signing up here: http://dsausa.org/get_involved/.

Jackie Sewell is the national organizer for the Young Democratic Socialists

Film Discussion: When Abortion Was Illegal

March 26, 2017
· 13 rsvps

Directed by Dorothy Fadiman, When Abortion Was Illegal (1992, nominated for an Academy Award, Best Documentary Short Subject) reveals through first-person accounts the experiences of women seeking abortion before the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade in 1973. We are one Supreme Court nominee away from a return in many states to back-alley abortions. Join Amanda Williams, Executive Director of the Lilith Fund, to discuss challenges to reproductive justice and abortion access. (Lilith Fund funds abortions for women in need in the Central and South Texas area.) Learn about how to participate in April Bowl-A-Thons to raise funds for low-income women. View the film here for free before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

March 30, 2017
· 39 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

LGBT Activism: A Brief History with Thoughts about the Future

April 01, 2017
· 50 rsvps

Historian John D'Emilio's presentation will do 3 things: Provide a brief explanation of how sexual and gender identities have emerged; provide an overview of the progression of LGBT activism since its origins in the 1950s, highlighting key moments of change; and, finally, suggest what issues, from a democratic socialist perspective, deserve prioritizing now. John co-authored Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, which was quoted by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision that ruled state sodomy laws unconstitutional. 1 pm ET; 12 pm CT; 11 am MT; 10 am PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Peg Strobel, peg.strobel@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 30 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT. Here's a blog post about PHIT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

April 04, 2017
· 53 rsvps

Join Rahel Biru, NYC DSA co-chair, and Joseph Schwartz, DSA Vice-Chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement.  9 PM ET; 8 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 6 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Joseph Schwartz, schwartzjoem@gmail.com.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

What Is DSA? Training Call

April 05, 2017

If you're a new DSAer, have been on a new member call, but still have questions about DSA's core values/strategy/core work and how to express these ideas in an accessible way to the media, as well as to friends, family and others who might be interested in joining DSA, this call is for you. 

We will talk through the basics of DSA's political orientation and strategy for moving toward democratic socialism, and also have call participants practice discussing these issues with each other. By the end of the call you should feel much more comfortable thinking about and expressing what DSA does and what makes our organization/strategy unique. 8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT. 70 minutes.

Feminist Working Group

April 12, 2017
· 15 rsvps

People of all genders are welcome to join this call to discuss DSA's work on women's and LGBTQ issues, especially in light of the new political reality that we face after the elections.  9 pm ET; 8 pm CT; 7 pm MT; 6 pm PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

April 16, 2017
· 6 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT.