November 08, 2010

5th National Convention Focuses on Building the Student Movement

The 5th National Convention of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) exhibited determination and advancement in the student movement. Hosted by Milwaukee SDS on Oct. 22-24, 100 people from 15 states and 20 cities arrived with workshops, report backs, and many new members. New Community College chapters were also present. SDS is on it’s second and third generation of college activists and convention attendees predicted gains in the upcoming year as more and more students become upset with the economy, wars and occupations, racist laws, FBI repression, and environmental catastrophes. Holly C-W from UCLA SDS was one of the many new people to the SDS convention. "It was great to see how other campuses have been fighting against privatization and budget cuts," she observed. "The most important thing I've taken back to share with my friends in LA is the feeling that students everywhere are linked in these causes." SDS members had time to share what they had worked on over the last year. Some, but not all, notable report backs included: Over 30 SDS chapters have participated in the two national days of action to defend education Dozens of SDS chapters have protested war and occupation in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine SDS organized a Freedom Summer for members to protest SB1070 in Arizona Alabama SDS worked alongside campus bus drivers in a successful unionizing campaign Gainsville SDS lead hundreds into the streets and occupied offices while protesting racism and police brutality UCLA SDS has been on the front lines of an education rights movement that captured national media attention and helped spark a national movement Diablo Valley SDS had a representative attend the convention to report on their work against war, occupation, and cuts to education Wright College SDS launched a campaign for a Justice scholarship for undocumented students and organized a fight back to save pre-credit classes College Park SDS is building a movement to keep their university bookstore from corporate takeover and has built an active education rights movement Milwaukee SDS built a strong coalition of students and workers that helped oust their Chancellor and successfully fought to have charges dropped against 16 arrested students during an education rights protest on March 4 Oklahoma SDS helped win a dollar raise for university workers and continues to demand a livable wage for campus employees Minnesota SDS has a member currently being targeted by the FBI and play an important role in defending this member and others. They also rallied with hundreds of students and workers for the March 4th national day of action to defend education and continue to build a strong movement for education rights. The convention did not make changes to the structure of SDS or formal plans for proceeding in the movement, but through conversations, workshops, report backs, and educational plenaries, attendees showed optimism about their direction in the upcoming year. "It was amazing to see students around the country, gathering in solidarity for common goals," said Bora Mese from Passaic Country Community College SDS in New Jersey. "The convention was a source of inspiration to me to come home to New Jersey and fight that much harder for our struggles. Long Live SDS brothers and sisters!" Keynote speakers included Jess Sundin and Steff Yoerk, two union and antiwar activists who were recent victims of FBI raids and subpoenas. Many SDS chapters at the convention have protested the raids and Grand Jury proceedings, and many more vowed their support. "This attack on us is an attack on progressive movements as a whole," Sundin said. "Students have a vested interest in defending political space for progressive movements and the individuals targeted on these attacks are relying on students to help defend us and defend political freedoms for all." Chapters in SDS have lead thousands of students over the last year to oppose war, racism, police brutality, suppression of free speech, and many other progressive causes. People who missed the convention should join the movement today at