Resolution for Supporting a Growing YDSA
YDSA now has more than 130 chapters. YDSA blossoming isn’t just a result of socialism’s rise in popularity; it’s also a product of the hard work by young student organizers all across the country. But YDSA only has two staffers for all of these chapters and we’re running up against the limit of what volunteer labor can do. More staff could mean more chapters, more training for new members, and more productive national committees.
We hope that some changes will make our annual conventions more meaningful by better allowing elected leaders to carry out the delegates’ democratic decisions. Allowing National Coordinating Committee members to have input in the hiring process and budgetary decisions would expand capacity and enable elected leadership to better determine the direction of our organization. Stipends for NCC members would allow them to focus on YDSA organizing for the year, instead of splitting time between school and a job. Finally, inviting National Coordinating Committee members to participate in National Political Committee meetings would improve coordination between YDSA and the rest of the DSA. Together, these proposals can transform YDSA into the prominent nationwide student organization that it has the potential to be.
College for All
YDSA needs a national campaign. When our leaders, committees, and chapters are all working together, our collective energy is focused. During the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, our objective was clear: go all in and build YDSA in the process. Sanders’s policies were easy to understand and widely popular because they would take money and power from the rich and put it in the hands of working people.
Recently, Sanders and Pramila Jayapal have reintroduced their College for All bill, giving YDSA the opportunity to fight for debt- and tuition-free higher education. We should seize the moment, with the understanding that winning College for All will require mass action, not just politicking by elected officials. The previous College for All campaign helped build YDSA into the nationwide organization it is today. Now YDSA can be the organization that millions of young people associate with the fight for fully-funded and affordable education.
Chapters at Kenyon, UVA, and Columbia led mass campaigns that organized and politicized thousands of students and student-workers. We want to strengthen this local work by providing more national support for chapters’ campaigns and connecting it to our national campaign and a broader socialist vision for education.
Expanding YDSA’s Rank-and-File Pipeline
Workers’ vital power comes from the ability to disrupt profits. Last convention, YDSA delegates reaffirmed our commitment to the rank-and-file strategy by voting to form a “rank-and-file pipeline” that would educate members about labor history and prepare them to be shop-floor organizers.
In the last year, hundreds of students have attended National Labor Committee trainings and expressed interest in joining the labor movement after they graduate. Cohering a socialist layer in the labor movement will take time, an investment that will pay off in the future with thousands of class-conscious militants fighting back all across the country. We must continue this work further, which is why Bread and Roses YDSA is supporting the National Labor Committee’s resolution on Expanding YDSA’s Rank-and-File Pipeline.
Strengthening YDSA’s Political Education Program
Political education is a key component of YDSA’s central task of cultivating lifelong socialist organizers. Political education equips our members with the skills necessary to bring socialist politics to a wider audience as well as to engage in strategic analysis of our society and to use those insights to inform our organizing.
In the past year the National Political Education Committee has hosted multiple reading groups attended by dozens of chapters and hundreds of members. This type of discussion-based political education creates a shared sense of solidarity despite distance and develops skills that organizers can bring back to their own chapters. The National Political Education Committee also developed a curriculum for chapters to use, hosted trainings to support chapters with local political education, drafted a Tasks & Perspectives document, and facilitated nationwide and local discussions about our strategy for winning socialism.
We should continue this political education by facilitating more regional events to kickstart new chapters and encourage cross-chapter collaboration, as well as introducing a comprehensive new member onboarding that will help us to more effectively support and develop new socialist cadre. That’s why Bread and Roses YDSA is supporting the National Political Education Committee’s resolution on Strengthening YDSA’s Political Education Program.
Building a YDSA Mentorship Program
As young people part of a relatively young socialist movement, we have a lot to learn. In places like New York City and East Bay, older and more experienced DSA and YDSA members have used mentorship programs to build new chapters and develop new leaders, especially at schools with multiracial, working-class student populations.
There are already some chapters with mentorship positions or official connections with their local DSA chapters. But these relationships should be standardized into a national mentorship team. By creating a special mentorship curriculum and coordinating nationally, YDSA can learn from the previous generation of socialist leaders in order to support the next generation.