April 18, 2017

New SDS opposes Trump’s attacks on Syria!

On April 7th, President Trump approved a strike of 50 tomahawk missiles on a Syrian airbase near Homs, Syria’s third largest city. Syrian media sources reported that at least nine civilians were killed by the U.S. military strike, including four children. The national body of New Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) strongly condemns the Trump administration’s vicious attacks against the Syrian people, and vows to channel our anger into organized resistance through our 30+ member chapters and affiliated student organizations on campuses across the country.

The U.S. government claims their missile attacks against a sovereign country in the Middle East was punishment for a recent poison gas explosion in the town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed 70 people, which Trump blamed on the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). Corporate-owned media immediately began parroting these war-hungry claims, without any independent investigation, even though the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice just two months ago publicly boasted on NPR, “We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile [in 2014].” In Hillary Clinton’s first interview since her presidential election defeat, she also eagerly encouraged the U.S. military to bomb Syrian airfields mere hours before the attacks started.

The missile attacks cost the U.S. government $93.81 million, but added nearly $5 billion to the collective stock value of corporations that produce weaponry including Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. While Trump campaigned against U.S. intervention in Syria, his position as a billionaire politician with investments in Raytheon puts his interests directly at odds with the working people he claims to represent. The Trump administration’s hawkish military budget of $1.45 trillion, nearly half the total federal budget, is money robbed from crucial social programs like education and healthcare which face significant cutbacks. Trump’s attacks on the Syrian people are therefore also an attack on the rights of workers and oppressed communities here, including students, and only benefit the wealthiest 1% of corporate owners.

Trump’s attacks are a dangerous escalation of the six-year-long U.S. war on Syria, as it is the first time that Washington is openly announcing military strikes aimed at the Syrian government. Such attacks could create a deadly confrontation between two nuclear powers: the U.S. and Russia. Russia has been assisting the Syrian government against U.S.-funded proxies dominated by al-Qaeda. For years, the U.S. government has spent over $1 billion per year funding and arming right-wing proxy forces that have ripped the country apart, creating millions of refugees. In 2016 alone, the U.S. military dropped 12,192 bombs on Syria, destroying the country's infrastructure and killing thousands. Economic sanctions have strangled the Syrian economy, resulting in massive inflation and poverty. The Syrian health service, one of the best in the Middle East before the U.S. intervention, is now close to collapse.

It has long been the strategy of the U.S. government to fund right-wing proxy groups to weaken or overthrow governments which do not fully align with U.S. corporate interests. The ‘war on terror’ is effectively a war on the nations and liberation movements that oppose the foreign domination of their country’s land, labor and resources. Syria is a passageway of important oil and gas pipelines, while the U.S.-backed state of Israel perceives the Syrian government as a threat due to its support for resistance against the Israeli occupation of Arab lands across the Levant. Trump’s attacks have allowed Israel to accelerate its drilling of oil and gas from the Golan Heights in Syria, an area which has been under Israeli military occupation for the past 50 years.

We believe students in the U.S. are in a unique position to expose and oppose the concrete role of university administrations in running higher educational institutions as centers for promoting racist wars, designing weaponry, and predatory military recruitment. By identifying actual policies or contracts that maintain the relationship between a university and the war industry, we are able to educate and mobilize ourselves as a collective force against a concrete issue on campus, which allows us to strike real blows against the 1% and threaten their ability to continue profiting from endless U.S. wars. SDS at UC Davis is protesting Chancellor Gary May’s direct role in profiting from war, as he is on the board of two weapon manufacturing companies.

We also recognize that the U.S. government continues to wage wars abroad while depriving the very people impacted by these wars any avenues of refuge and sanctuary here. Therefore, to express solidarity with victims of U.S. military devastation means to fight for sanctuary campuses at home, where all immigrant and Muslim students and workers are protected from the threat of racist deportations or anti-Muslim bans. All of the countries in the Middle East and Africa included on Trump’s racist Muslim bans have been subjected to the terror of US-backed military occupations, bombings, and killer sanctions for decades.

As an organization committed to fighting for the democratic rights and liberation of all exploited communities, SDS sees the student movement as an important part of the larger struggle for a society where workers and oppressed people have the power to run societal institutions in our interests, as the social majority who produce all wealth and make society run. This includes funding education and humans needs, not racist wars for corporate profits.

Fight Trump’s Racist Attacks - at Home & Abroad!
Hands off Syria! Sanctuary for All!

At our last national SDS conference, we became a member of the international Hands Off Syria Coalition, as well as a signatory to the coalition’s Points of Unity, available here: HandsOffSyriaCoalition.net

February 04, 2017

February 15th National Day of Action: Resist the Racist, Anti-Immigrant Orders!

Since taking office Donald Trump has been feverishly enacting his bigoted, racist agenda through a stream of executive orders and actions. His long list already includes expediting the approval of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL Pipelines, restricting crucial access to reproductive healthcare, and beginning the roll back of the Affordable Care Act.
Trump’s main attack, however, is aimed at immigration: it is now government policy to ban immigrants from a list, which can be expanded at any time at the president’s discretion, of Muslim-majority countries that includes Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen — all of which Trump is currently bombing — as well as Sudan, Iran, and Somalia; to immediately begin work on the border wall with Mexico; to hire 5,000 additional border agents and 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents; to deport anyone seen as a “risk;” to block all federal grants to sanctuary cities; for all local law enforcement officers to act as immigration agents; and to institute of “extreme vetting” for all refugee admissions. This was all done before the end of the first week of Trump’s presidency. Furthermore, in the coming days Trump is poised to eliminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which currently protects around 740,000 people from deportation.
These executive orders and actions are a concerted and violent assault on already vulnerable groups of people. The majority of immigrants and refugees to the United States are fleeing war, destitution, and internal strife created by US military and economic intervention. The ban on Muslims is clear continuation of racist fear-mongering in order to justify bombing and overthrowing sovereign governments in the Middle East and North Africa for corporate gain. Likewise, the increasing criminalization of undocumented immigrants is not for the “protection of American jobs” but a method of forcing the most dangerous and exploitative jobs to be taken by undocumented people who are unable to unionize and organize their workplaces. Under Obama, over 2.5 million people were deported — more than any other president in the history of the US. From day one, Trump is positioning himself to continue and escalate the offensive against immigrants and refugees, and with the elimination of DACA many facing deportation are those who have lived in the US for the majority of their lives. These bans, restrictions, and program eliminations also further legitimize the ever more prevalent hate crimes committed against Muslim, Arab, Black, Latinx, and Chicanx people.
The “wait-and-see” approach to Trump’s blatantly white supremacist, anti-immigrant agenda is toothless and cowardly and it shows that both the Democrats and the Republicans will fall in line with whatever is profitable and expedient. So far, 14 Democrats (including Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s running mate) have voted for every single one of Trump’s cabinet picks including General John Kelly for the Department of Homeland Security, the agency which is still enforcing Trump’s Muslim ban despite a court ordered stay. We cannot stand idly by while those who claim to lead us do nothing while Trump continues to enact all the policies he promised since the first day of his campaign. We do not “owe Trump an open mind.” We must proactively resist Trump, his cabinet, and his policies.
On the first day of the Muslim ban thousands of protesters mobilized against Trump’s agenda and shut down JFK Airport in New York. In conjunction with the New York Taxi Drivers Alliance strike operations at the airport effectively ceased. Over the following days tens of thousands across the country  joined in marches and rallies against the Muslim ban, the wall, and the racist, Islamophobic, and generally bigoted actions by the Trump administration. Similar to the massive strike on May Day in 2006 that defeated HR-4437, the “Border Protection, Anti-terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act,” this political and economic pressure by the people in support of immigrants and refugees, and not the behind the scenes maneuvering of any Democrats, led to a temporary halt on the Muslim ban.
We must not relent in our organizing and mobilization. SDS has been at the forefront of marches and protests against Trump. We joined the coalition that marched on the Republican National Convention, we have shut down his rallies across the country, and we will continue to fight his attacks.
Therefore, National Students for a Democratic Society calls for a day of action on February 15th to resist Trump’s racist, anti-immigrant executive orders and agenda. We demand a rescission of these orders, legislative protection of sanctuary campuses and cities, preservation of DACA, and Legalization For All! The situation under Trump is likely going to get worse before it gets better; however, only by building the student movement — and by extension the people’s movement as a whole — and struggling for change can we achieve a more just and democratic society.
Dare to Struggle! Dare to Win!
Stop Trump’s Agenda!
Sanctuary For All!
Legalization For All!
Education For All!

January 26, 2017

National SDS Supports Sanctuary Campuses

National Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) expresses our strongest support for sanctuary campuses, and reaffirms our commitment to standing in solidarity with the undocumented and Muslim communities in their struggle against racist immigration and registration laws. More than twenty-five campuses have declared themselves sanctuaries following the election. SDS chapters from Salt Lake City to St Pete are currently waging campaigns to demand university administrations declare their campus a sanctuary amidst Trump's anti-immigrant policy proposals.

Already under President Obama, a record number of human beings were expelled from this country. When you combine the number of immigrants detained at the borders with the number of people that were removed from within the United States, President Obama oversaw the deportation of more than 2.5 million people. This number will only increase under Donald Trump’s administration, making the struggle in support of undocumented families more important than ever before. The Arab and Muslim registry Trump has promised to implement also represents an intensification of profiling and targeting that existed under previous presidents — most notably in the form of Bill Clinton’s National Security Entry-Exit Registration System. Students have a crucial role to play in supporting vulnerable and marginalized communities against these growing threats.

Universities have long been key sites of resistance against racist laws, and there is an important history of student organizing to keep law enforcement off of our campuses. As early as the 1850s, for example, students and university workers in the North came together to protect formerly-enslaved African Americans from would-be slave catchers on campuses such as Oberlin, Western Reserve College, and Illinois College. Later, during the notorious internment of Japanese families during World War II, students organized at more than fifteen universities across the country to create sanctuaries and safe havens, where vulnerable community members of Japanese descent could be free from harassment, detention, and internment. During the Vietnam War, students across the country also came together to hide and protect draft resisters. Members of the City College of New York chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, for example, continued to shelter fugitive draftees even in the face of arrests and other forms of repression. In raising the demand for sanctuary campuses, we as students are taking our place in this historic struggle; a struggle for campus communities bound together in solidarity, that refuse to allow racist laws to tear them apart.

Historically, colleges didn't have their own police forces until administrations pushed for them after the powerful student protests against racism and war in the '60s. Campus police are not about protecting students, they are about protecting the financial interests of wealthy administrators by preventing organized resistance to systemic oppression.  College and high-school based police are using high levels of aggressive force against students, including tasers, pepper spray, and assaults. Abundant research shows having police in schools does nothing to reduce crime, contributes to an atmosphere of fear, and is at the center of criminalization of non-white students in particular.  

By refusing to allow ICE and other agencies of state repression access to our classrooms, dorms, cafeterias, libraries, and places of worship, we are fighting in solidarity with some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. We should demand that administrations proactively defend undocumented people and their identities. As students, we are in a position to organize and put direct pressure on university administrations not to collaborate with ICE, Muslim registries, or any other form of racist targeting and discrimination. These kinds of campaigns win real protections for students, workers, and families, and are a necessary form of resistance against unjust laws that are rooted in white supremacy, racism, and Islamophobia.

Every city a sanctuary city! Every campus a sanctuary campus!
No walls, no deportations, no Muslim registration!

December 06, 2016

National SDS celebrates victory at Standing Rock against deadly Dakota Access Pipeline

Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a 1,172 mile long, $3.8 billion project by oil company Energy Transfer Partners. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation lies 0.5 miles south of the proposed construction, have expressed repeated concerns over the risk that a pipeline rupture or spill could pose to its water supply and treaty rights. Construction of the pipeline was halted after protesters and indigenous water protectors mobilized to defend the national sovereignty and water supply of Standing Rock.

The pipeline company was recently denied a permit by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and will conduct an environmental impact study. This occurred shortly after thousands of veterans from around the country descended upon Standing Rock to help defend people from the repression of law enforcement. Police clad in riot gear have deployed attack dogs, tear gas, rubber bullets, tasers, and water hoses at freezing temperatures against the people at Standing Rock. We salute their courage and recognize that credit for this victory belongs to them for fighting back.

We stand firmly against any attempts by Energy Transfer Partners to continue construction or re-route the pipeline. Sustainable and alternative energy sources exist that do not threaten to poison our environment, unlike non-renewable fossil fuels, and should be invested in instead.  

DAPL is financed by oil company billionaires and bankers, and protected through the violent force of over 76 law enforcement agencies including police forces and deployment of national guard. Meanwhile, wealthy politicians like Trump and Clinton supported the deadly pipeline, putting oil company profits over indigenous lives.

The history of the oppression of indigenous nations goes back to the very founding of this country, when European colonizers accomplished initial settlement of the United States through terror and genocide of millions. Today, more than 500 treaties made between the U.S. government and Native American tribes are broken, nullified or amended. The criminal disregard of Native sovereignty has greenlighted U.S. corporate exploitation of natural resources located on indigenous territories.  

Government and corporate abuses have consistently been met with indigenous resistance and resilience. In 2015, Native American tribes whose lands the Keystone XL pipeline would have traversed, organized against its construction and successfully defeated the 1,179 mile oil pipeline.

History shows time and time again that when the people fight back, we win. Building grassroots organizations independent of the political establishment that profits from and sustains our oppression, and which are capable of leading mass mobilizations, helps oppressed communities build our collective power to demand change. Direct disruption of the system and non-cooperation with oppression is how we concretely fight systemic issues, and seize what’s ours from those in power.

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) vows to carry the struggle forward against our common enemy on campuses across the country, as we organize to stop the Trump administration’s incoming agenda.

When Native Americans are under attack, what do we do? Stand up fight back!
From Standing Rock to Palestine, occupation is a crime!
Dare to struggle, dare to win!

November 22, 2016

National SDS Call to Action: Student Walk-Outs on January 20th Inauguration Day

Since early 2016, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) has been at the forefront of protests to stop Trump. Chapters and affiliates led protests from coast to coast, even helping to completely shut down his speaking event in Chicago. This summer, we attended and spoke at the March on the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. From the beginning, SDS has said that Trump’s agenda of bigotry, misogyny, anti-immigrant, and Islamophobic attacks should not go unopposed.

Upon his election win, Clinton officially remarked that "We owe Trump an open mind". The same rich politicians and corporate media pundits who told us that Trump could be defeated at the ballot box have offered no real solutions for how to stop his policy measures. Like in 2008, these politicians backed by Wall Street, bankers, and billionaires have proposed that we compromise, but SDS calls for students to mobilize.

We call upon students and all people to channel their anger into organizing, so we can defend our communities, and build sustainable movements independent of the political establishment that provides both Trump and Hillary as viable candidates.

On Inauguration Day, Jan 20th, SDS will hold a national student walkout, in alliance with many other student groups. We will disrupt operations on campuses everywhere. Whether it’s against segregation, deportation, or war, history shows that the fight for an education system based on peace, equality, and justice has always been spearheaded by students and youth, and never by the White House.

While we anticipate continued attacks on undocumented youth, we’ve already seen more deportations in the last eight years under President Obama than we’ve ever seen in US history. SDS has protested to end them every step of the way.  

SDS will continue to fight for #EducationForAll and #LegalizationForAll. We will be joining the fight to establish sanctuary campuses everywhere.

We demand free tuition and equal access to education for Black, Chicano, Latino  and specifically undocumented students. We demand sanctuary campuses everywhere, the preservation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and an end to deportations.

1. Free tuition! Accessibility at all public institutions.
2. Affirmative action, the end of racist testing, and quotas for admissions of African-American, Chicano, Latino, Asian, and students from other oppressed groups who are underrepresented at our institutions.
3. Equal access to education for undocumented students, from tuition equity to financial aid.
4. Non-cooperation with Immigration Customs Enforcement agents.
5. Protection of students’ information from law enforcement agencies, including residency status, religious affiliation, and other information from educational records protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
6. Federal protection for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, regardless of any Supreme Court ruling.

Moreover, we demand a just and fair education system on the basis of a just and fair society: no more wars, no US intervention, no police crimes, and no deportations. We will continue to mobilize until a fair and just society is won.

Stop Trump!
Sanctuary for All!
Legalization For All!
Education for All!

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1155379994550006/

November 09, 2016

National SDS Call to Action: Protest Trump’s Bigoted Agenda in the Streets!  

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) is making a national call to action, to unite all progressive forces through local mass mobilizations around the country against Donald Trump’s bigoted agenda. SDS chapters from Tallahassee to Detroit have planned rallies and marches, while thousands of students at Berkeley High School in California staged a walk-out.

Since the beginning of 2016, SDS has been at the forefront of protests to dump Trump. Our chapters and affiliates led protests from coast to coast, even helping to completely shut down his speaking event in Chicago. We said that Trump’s agenda of bigotry, anti-immigrant, and Islamophobic attacks should not go unopposed.

Many have already voiced anger and confusion upon the election of Trump. During the primary, the Democratic National Committee purposefully elevated Trump in an attempt to make Clinton seem more electable. Despite Clinton barely winning the popular vote, the Electoral College determined that Trump got elected. Blame should be placed on this undemocratic system, not third party voters or people who desire a real progressive alternative.

Upon his election win, Clinton officially remarked that "We owe Trump an open mind". The same wealthy politicians and corporate media pundits who told us that Trump could be defeated at the ballot box, have offered no real solutions for how to stop his policy measures.

We call upon students and all people to channel their anger into organizing, so we can defend our communities, and build sustainable movements independent of the political establishment that provides both Trump and Hillary as viable candidates.

Mass deportations, border militarization, Islamophobic and anti-refugee attacks have already occurred under both Republican and Democrat presidencies. Obama was responsible for deporting 2.5 million undocumented immigrants, more people than the sum of all 19 presidents who governed the United States from 1892-2000.

SDS leads campaigns to win concrete demands, and fight systemic issues for lasting change. We aim to educate ourselves about the needs of students and oppressed people, and use direct action to demand what’s ours from those in power. SDS won tuition equity for undocumented students in the state of Florida, defeated tuition hikes on several campuses, and recently helped win a major strike victory for faculty workers at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. When we dare to struggle, we dare to win!

Trump says go back, we say fight back!

November 01, 2016

National SDS celebrates Harvard and Pennsylvania college strike victories

National SDS celebrates the victorious worker and faculty strikes at Harvard and campuses across Pennsylvania. When we dare to strike, we dare to win!

Picket lines graced the Harvard campuses for the first time in over thirty years this semester as Harvard University Dining Service (HUDS) workers voted 591-18 in favor of reviving the strike. HUDS workers drew a line in the sand over proposed health care cuts and the system of cyclical layoffs that leave most dining workers with no source of income for up to four months out of every year. Harvard has already forced similarly abusive contracts on other sectors of the workforce, but the brave individuals that work in Harvard’s dining hall said enough is enough! Workers gave the administration over three months to meet their demands, and when the administrators refused to budge, workers brought out the most powerful tool labor has at its disposal: the strike.

Over the course of the 22-day strike, HUDS workers built a strong united front of students, faculty, and lower-level administrative and clerical staff. Student organizations such as the Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM) and Reclaim Harvard Law held joint student-worker rallies, organized food drives for the striking workers, recruited their classmates to reinforce the picket lines, and called walk-outs that brought hundreds of students out of the classrooms and into the streets. More importantly, however, students at Harvard targeted the individual financiers and corporate elites at the very top of the chain of command-- the Fellows of the Harvard Corporation. Students flooded these individuals’ inboxes, voicemails, and mailboxes with complaints and condemnations of the way the Fellows were exploiting workers, thereby directly disrupting their lives. The final blow in the Harvard campaign came Monday, October 23, when SLAM led hundreds of students in a walk-out and marched on 124 Mt. Auburn, where the contract was being negotiated. By refusing to leave the premises until the administration offered the workers a fair contract, the students helped build direct pressure, and by the end of the evening the workers had a contract that met all of their demands without exception.

Students at West Chester University of Pennsylvania put these same direct action tactics into effect during the statewide faculty strike that kicked off on October 19. The strikers were organized under the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF), a union that represents 14 different campuses across the state. By calling for a statewide strike, the faculty were able to fight back against changes to their healthcare and budget cuts, and to push for higher quality education and fairer wages for the lowest-paid faculty and teaching staff.

Students showed their solidarity with the striking faculty from the very beginning. Members of West Chester Students for a Democratic Society, for example, reinforced the picket lines from the moment they first emerged on their campus. On the first day of the strike, West Chester SDS organized a campus-wide walkout that not only disrupted classes and the normal functioning of the university, but also brought students into direct contact with striking faculty, who were able to discuss their struggle and educate students about the material conditions they were facing.

West Chester SDS also showed support by offering food, transportation, and solidarity to the striking faculty. Several members traveled to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education headquarters, in Harrisburg, where they directly confronted Chancellor Frank Brogan, forcing him to listen to faculty demands. At 10am on Friday, October 21, students marched into town and met with Mayor Carolyn Comitta, shoring up her support for the strike. Students then marched through campus and confronted Governor Tom Wolf at a local restaurant, where they demanded that the Governor visit West Chester University. Upon learning that Governor Wolf had fled the restaurant through the back door, students marched back to campus and once again joined the picket lines, where SDS helped to lead chants demanding a fair contract. By the end of the day, APSCUF had won a new contract that will help ensure quality education standards across the entire state.

The victories at Harvard and West Chester prove the importance of strong student-worker and student-faculty solidarity, and provide important models for labor struggles on campuses across the country. During a traditional strike, workers are able to shut down production at the factory by withholding their labor. Since our universities don’t rely on production in the same way, our tactics have to change as well. Although faculty workers may be in a unique position, workers are often unable to win a strike by simply withholding their labor; organizers must also apply direct pressure on high level decision-makers through the kinds of direct confrontations exemplified in the West Chester and Harvard strikes.

Students, faculty, and staff must be united in the fight against the corporatization of our education! Cuts to healthcare and salaries for the working class people that keep our campuses running only benefit the top level administrators, and it is our responsibility to unite all who can be united to fight against such measures. All power to campus workers, students, and professors!