2020 YDSA Summer Convention

Meet the Candidates

Summer Convention is July 31 - August 2

Check out the YDSA Summer Convention page for more information.

Hear from us at the YDSA Bread & Roses Candidate and Resolutions forum!

YDSA Bread & Roses Candidate and Resolutions forum: July 26th at 4pm ET/1pm PT

We are living through unprecedented times in American history. A democratic socialist nearly won the Democratic presidential primary earlier this year, earning the enthusiasm of students everywhere. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic crashed into our privatized healthcare system and millions were laid off in its wake. Now, massive and militant protests against police violence have broken out in every state in the country.

YDSA should be the organization that students and young people look to and join to make sense of our moment and learn how to organize for democracy and equality. And YDSA should be a launchpad for young socialists, preparing them to organize in DSA long after they finish school.

Since Bernie Sanders’s 2016 campaign, YDSA has grown rapidly, bringing students all around the country together in the fight for socialism. Through campaigns like College for All, YDSA for Bernie, and our coronavirus response, we’ve grown to 115 chapters engaged in local and national fights. In the last year, we’ve also created a thriving publication, The Activist, and a syllabus for night schools.

But every year, some members of YDSA graduate. This high turnover demands more organizing support from national leadership and a shared strategy about how students can contribute to the class struggle. As Marxists, we believe that although students have an important role to play, only the working class can build socialism. Students as a group are transient and heterogenous, but the working class is an absolute majority and can fatally disrupt profit-making. While the majority of YDSA members are individually working-class, we are not representative of the working class’s diversity and we remain largely separate from the labor movement.

YDSA must work to elevate class consciousness on and around campuses, and bring students into struggles that will provide them with the knowledge and skills necessary to organize after completing their degree. Currently, YDSA lacks the centralization, coordination, and organizational structure to recruit effectively, carry out widespread political education, and develop leaders. The Summer 2020 Convention is an opportunity to think seriously about how we can achieve these goals: We can decide on a path for YDSA that meets our political moment and, long-term, sets us on track to grow and cohere into the youth wing of a mass socialist workers’ party.

Above all, YDSA’s mission must be to make, train, and keep young socialists. To that end, Bread and Roses members in YDSA are putting forward our vision for YDSA through the following resolutions and a slate of socialist organizers who are dedicated to building YDSA into the disciplined and effective organization we know it can be.

Develop and Implement Comprehensive Political Education

In order to respond effectively to this current crisis and chart a positive path forward, we must understand how capitalism works. Our members should be familiar with the history of socialists before us — what they tried, why they disagreed with each other, when they failed and when they made progress. Political education among comrades empowers our members to participate in YDSA and intervene in current events, and gives members the skills and perspectives necessary to become lifelong socialist organizers.

This past year, YDSA’s National Political Education Committee compiled readings and discussion questions, provided trainings on running night schools, and published The Activist. We hope to further develop and implement robust political education through the NPEC and its relationship with chapters and members.

Read more about political education: Brains and Brawn in DSA

Read our political education resolution: Developing a Robust National Political Education Program

Recommit to the Rank-and-File Strategy

As Marxists, we believe that the working class is the agent of change that can achieve socialism and that socialists need to prioritize rebuilding the independent fighting capacity of the working class. We subscribe to the rank-and-file strategy which states that socialists should focus on identifying and developing a layer of rank-and-file leaders who can organize in the workplace on a day-to-day basis.

The best way for YDSA to engage in the rank-and-file strategy is to re-establish a National Labor Committee with two primary tasks:

  1. Work with the NPEC to develop political education on the centrality of the labor movement to socialist struggle, and
  2. Build a pipeline to encourage YDSAers to get rank-and-file jobs in strategic sectors after graduating, and support those already interested.

Read more on the rank-and-file strategy in YDSA: Students and Strikes: Why YDSA Needs the Rank and File Strategy

Read our Rank-and-File Strategy resolution: Establishing a Rank-and-File Pipeline

For a Central Tasks and Perspectives

YDSA’s membership has skyrocketed, but not without some growing pains. The connections between chapters and the national organization are loose, political development remains uneven from chapter to chapter, and though we’ve adopted radical and meaningful stances on many issues, our goals and our vision as an organization are still unclear. If we want to overcome the liberal influence of issue-based campus activism and the implicit instability caused by turnover at colleges and universities, we need to build a strong, formidable, and lasting organization with clear priorities and structures. In doing so we can develop lifelong militants who understand our immediate struggles as part of a much broader strategy for building a socialist future.

By adopting a national Tasks and Perspectives Document through an open and democratic process, we can move toward a collective understanding of our purpose as an organization and better coordinate around our shared goals. This document will draw on the resolutions passed at the 2020 convention, and will therefore reflect the will of the organization's highest democratic body and give chapters a framework for their own local campaigns.

Read our tasks and perspectives resolution: Adopting a National Tasks and Perspectives Document for YDSA

Grow and Diversify

Students have played an important role in socialist movements in the past, but they can’t transform our society alone. Only a mass movement of class-conscious workers can build socialism. To help create this movement, YDSA needs to expand and diversify. We should start with historically Black colleges and universities, as well as other minority-serving institutions, community colleges, and high schools.

Our next National Coordinating Committee should prioritize growth and diversification. They can do this by providing resources and trainings to YDSA and DSA chapters on how to help form chapters on nearby campuses, strengthening the relationship between YDSA chapters and their local DSA chapter, and surveying YDSA members already attending these institutions. It is essential that DSA’s National Political Committee hires another full-time staffer for YDSA to carry out this work, and they should strongly consider hiring an organizer who is a person of color.

Read our Growth and Diversification resolution here: Growth and Diversification


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