January 25, 2015

2014 National Convention Resolutions

Students for a Democratic Society
2014 National Convention

Resolution #1
End U.S. Wars – proposed by the SDS affiliate Revolutionary Students Union from Utah

National Students for a Democratic Society stands against all US interventions across the globe. The US does not want to help other countries, but instead pursues the narrow interests of the rich, the powerful, and the connected. The methods used go beyond bullets and bombs. The US also uses political and economic weapons like sanctions, coups, and funding front groups for the US government. We stand against all US wars, interventions, and interference in other countries.

The US has put its sights on the Middle East. The ongoing support for Israel has lead to occupation and the murder of thousands. We call for an immediate end to support for Israel and support students carrying out BDS campaigns on campus. Furthermore, the US has been funding and arming anti-Syrian rebels for years adding fuel to the fire of the war in Syria. ISIS gained its weapons, training, and funding from the US and its allies. Now it threatens the entire region and serves as a cover story for the US to intervene in the region. US intervention cannot fix what US intervention broke. We stand against any intervention and reject any lies put forward by the US government trying to justify further intervention.

Students for a Democratic Society and its affiliates will organize and mobilize to fight back against the current wars, occupations, and interventions and any new ones. We don't accept the idea that this country has no money for basic rights like education, but has money to cause death and destruction across the globe.

Resolution #2
Continue the Struggle Against Ballooning Student Loan Debt – by University of Texas at Arlington SDS

Student debt has become a weight on the back of the people in America. In 2009, it bypassed credit card debt, and then in 2011, it exceeded auto-loan debt. In 2012, student debt reached 1 trillion dollars in totality. Student debt primarily affects working-class students whose parents cannot pay for their education. This is especially true for undocumented students and international students, who suffer greatly by their tuition being nearly four times in-state tuition. Of the 20 million people who go to college each year, 12 million will take out loans. These debts will continue to grow as tuition rates rise.

National Students for a Democratic Society must organize against it. We must fight against a situation where an entire generation falls into student debt. National SDS calls on all chapters and affiliates to fight for free universal education. Education is a right, not a privilege.

Resolution #3
SDS Stands Against Political Repression and in Solidarity with Political Prisoners – by Clarksville, TN SDS

Students for a Democratic Society opposes political repression of all kinds and stands in solidarity with those who are under attack by the US government for their political views as well as with those being currently held as political prisoners. We demand justice for those facing ongoing attacks such as Rasmea Odeh who is fighting back against political repression aimed at her for her work to support women, immigrants, and Palestine. The attack on Rasmea is part of an ongoing campaign by the US government of political repression and criminalization of Muslims and Arab Americans at home and in US wars abroad. We say “Justice for Rasmea!” and demand an end to political repression of Muslims and Arab Americans, anti-war activists, and all those being attacked for their political opinions and activism. We call for the immediate release of all those who are currently being held political prisoner. The attempt to silence criticism and opposition to US oppression and imperialism will not be tolerated. The detention of those who have dedicated their lives to the fight for liberation and self-determination and the attacks on People's Heroes like Rasmea Odeh is an attack on our whole movement for a better world and a brighter future.

Rasmea Odeh is one of the most important members of our movement facing government repression at this time. A longtime Palestinian revolutionary and community activist, she has served the Chicago community and Palestinian community for years. Her important contributions to the struggle for Palestinian liberation have been met with an attack by the US Government with outrageous immigration violation allegations. Her case is linked directly to that of many other activists known collectively as the Anti-War 23 who have been facing the indefinite and secret Grand Jury investigation for exercising their Constitutionally-protected right to dissent. In both cases the right to dissent is under attack in COINTELPRO-style spying and secret Grand Jury investigation. As the government continues to manufacture and fabricate "internal threats" through coercion and entrapment with secret agents, it is more important than ever to stand up to government repression and the abuse of power.

Through constant struggle and raising the demand for their release, the movement against political repression secured the freedom of a few of our brothers and sisters. By fighting back against political repression we have won victories such as successfully defending longtime activist and revolutionary Carlos Montes against imprisonment. The FBI raided Montes’ home and he was unjustly charged with a number of felonies. By organizing vigilantly, holding protests around the country, establishing national call-in days, and gathering petitions, we have won numerous victories. After nationwide outcry and immense pressure on the judge and Bureau of Prisons demanding her release, People’s Lawyer, Lynne Stewart, was granted compassionate release on December 31, 2013. But many more of our brothers and sisters still remain in prison or under attack for their political opinions. We have found that it is true that when we dare to fight, we dare to win. We condemn the intimidation tactics used to threaten activists that are fighting political repression. We will continue to fight and demand the immediate release of all political prisoners and struggle against political repression such as the attacks Rasmea Odeh.

In the last year, other victories include the release of Herman Wallace, one of the Angola 3, who was released just days before his death on October 4, 2013. CeCe McDonald was released after serving a sentence for defending herself against a trans-phobic hate crime. Moreover, due to a strong movement for his freedom, Eddie Conway was freed in 2014. Yet, many more political prisoners remain unjustly detained. For example, American Indian Movement (AIM) organizer Leonard Peltier, who was wrongly convicted of the murder of government agents in a COINTEL-style FBI operation in which the Feds admitted having no evidence of his guilt, remains in prison. Another widely recognized political prisoner is former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal who was framed in the killing of a Philadelphia police officer in a shootout. Private Chlesea Manning is another political prisoner who has become a symbol of resistance as a whistle-blower who helped release endless US government documents revealing the vast oppressive and inhumane apparatus of American Imperialism. We say “Free Leonard Peltier!”, “Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!”, “Free Chelsea Manning!”.

There are many more political prisoners who remain equally important. Any political prisoner is too many political prisoners. Albert Woodox of the Angola 3 remains in prison, continuing the work of all three men to build a prison movement to end prison segregation, end systemic rape and violence, and act as legal consultants for prisoners. Shukri Abu-Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mohammad El-Mezain, Abdulrahman Odeh and Mufid Abdulqadar who are collectively known as the Holy Land 5 are imprisoned. The Holy Land Foundation helped legally raise funds for Palestinian hospitals, schools and the countless Palestinians living in poverty, only to be convicted by testimony from a “secret” Israeli intelligence agent in a second trial after first being found not guilty. Their first jury recognized the organization donated to the same sources as USAID. Gerardo Hernandez, Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino and Fernando Gonzalez also known as the Cuban 5 worked in Miami as counter-terrorism agents for Cuba. Their work included following and monitoring Orlando Bosch and Posada Carriles, two Cuban-American terrorists who detonated a bomb on a Cuban civilian airliner in 1976, killing 73 people. The NATO 5 were entrapped by FBI operations in the days leading up to the massive demonstrations in Chicago against the NATO summit held in May 2012. Brent Betterly, Jared Chase, Brian Church, Sebastian Senakiewicz and Mark Neiweem were all convicted of “conspiracy” and “material support” charges related to an attempt by two FBI agents to entrapment them. 

There remain others like those wrapped up in the post-9/11 “terrorism” scare that has seen many convicted of vague “material support to terrorism” charges which are often based on loose legal terminology and broad interpretations of how fundraising is done and where it goes. Amina Ali, Hawo Hassan, Muhammad Salah, Abdelhaleem Ashqar, Dr. Rafil Dhafir, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and Sami Al-Arian are all people convicted in the post-9/11 scare for acts including humanitarian fundraising and whistle-blowing about U.S. human rights abuse.

Those who have been part of the history of struggle for self-determination and resistance against national oppression remain imprisoned today and need our support. Ed Poindexter, Mono we Langa, Jalil Muntaqim, Sundiata Acoli, Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, Russel Maroon Shoats, Herman Hell, Romaine ‘Chip’ Fitzgerald, Robert Seth Hayes, Kamau Sadiki and Sekou Odinga are names among hundreds and even thousands of prisoners who remain in prison from the days of COINTELPRO, which casts a shadow on history as large as the net it cast to frame freedom fighters. Then there are those who fought US racism, colonialism and imperialism abroad being held as political prisoners, like Oscar Lopez Rivera who fought US colonialism in Peurto Rico or Ricardo Palmera who resisted US imperialism in Colombia. Those who have resisted US oppression and exploitation through the Black Liberation, Chicano Liberation, Palestine Liberation, the Puerto Rican movements and other struggles for national liberation and self determination are heroes and deserve our solidarity.

Resistance to environmental exploitation and degradation also remains criminalized through the efforts of corporations like Monsanto. Activists like Eric McDavid who was entrapped by the FBI and convicted of “conspiracy” to use fire or explosives to damage private and government properties. He was a member of the Earth Liberation Front, which was active in the 1990s and early 2000s. Another is Marius Mason who was convicted of property damage related to protests of GMO crops, mink farming and mountainside resort construction. Marius also struggles with gender-identity oppression like CeCe McDonald and Chelsea Manning.

These are just a few of many important names of political prisoners and people facing political repression that all activists and revolutionaries must know and stand in solidarity with. There are many more political prisoners whose names we must make recognizable. Students for a Democratic Society stands in solidarity with and demands the immediate release of all those who have been imprisoned for their political resistance to oppression, injustice and exploitation. We stand with those who are under attack for their political opinions and activism. We say “Hands Off!” all those struggling against political repression and imprisonment!

Resolution #4
SDS is Pro-Labor and Pro-Worker in Our Organizing – by University of Minnesota, Twin Cities SDS
In spring of 1932 college students in the U.S. stepped onto the stage of history. The National Student League (NSL) became the first national student-led radical, campaign and action oriented organization in U.S. history. Within the course of three years, the NSL was mobilizing over half of all university students in the U.S. on one-day “student strikes against war.” They mobilized over 500,000 students in 1935 and 1936 for these national days of action to oppose militarism, fascism, and the threat of war. In addition to opposing war, the NSL had an explicitly pro-labor orientation, which was a vital part of the organization that led it to expand nationally and to act as a gravitational pull for the entire student left. This resolution proposes that SDS similarly adopt an explicitly pro-labor orientation.
In 1932, the NSL was a tiny regional organization. Three actions catapulted it into the national spotlight and attracted students’ attention. First, they organized a campaign to oppose political repression by fighting against university administrators who had expelled muckraking left-leaning student newspaper editors. Second, they mobilized a caravan from New York campuses to Harlan, Kentucky, to express their support for mine workers on strike. They were beaten and turned away, but their vocal pro-labor stance earned them the respect of many youth increasingly impacted by the Great Depression. In the aftermath of this failed expedition, previously unorganized students in the Midwest and U.S. South gravitated toward the NSL and established chapters on their campuses to express solidarity with organized labor. The third action was a campaign in Detroit and New York to fight tuition hikes in city college schools. By disrupting multiple board of regents meetings and organizing protests at city hall, the NSL won victories and both of these cities took immediate action to reverse the tuition hikes and keep education affordable.  
As representations of the core orientation of the NSL and why it was able to establish roots on campuses across the country, these three actions reveal an emphasis on anti-repression, education rights, and pro-labor political organizing. SDS is already leading the country in its organizing on two of these issues. SDS is already explicitly opposed to political repression, organizing in support of the Antiwar 23, Carlos Montes, Rasmea Odeh, and other victims of political repression.  SDS is also already explicitly in favor of education rights organizing, fighting and winning tuition equity for undocumented students in Florida and fighting against tuition hikes in Minnesota and elsewhere. However, more needs to be done by SDS to emphasize and push for an explicitly pro-labor student politics.
This resolution commits SDS to support organized labor and labor militance when it breaks out.  It commits SDS to cultivate a pro-labor political orientation among the students we interact with on campus.  It commits SDS to establish ties between our organizing and the organizing of on-campus unions and attempts by unions to establish themselves on campus among staff and faculty. This resolution also commits SDS to send delegations, when possible, to areas of particularly high labor militance to express solidarity.
SDS chapters and affiliates should consider establishing worker solidarity campaigns as they arise and as conditions allow.

Resolution #5
SDS Must Continue Economic Fightback Work – by University of Minnesota, Twin Cities SDS

Students for a Democratic Society says that “Education is a right!” Education is an essential ingredient for liberation both individually and collectively. Equal education for all is a benefit for all of society. We, the students of the greatest concentration of wealth in the world, have long been misguided. We have been conditioned to believe education is only for those whose merits qualify them to access it. We have been conditioned to accept segregated education, unequal education and an education that demands an unsustainable debt, which will burden our generation, our society and our economy for years to come. We have been conditioned to view school as a commodity for our consumption, a commodity only offered to consumers with certain resources. Students for a Democratic Society demands an end to inequality in education.

When the United States continues to segregate its society by branding 11 million people as “illegal,” Students for a Democratic Society stands up and fights back. When 400,000 people are tortured, terrorized, imprisoned and deported a year by a so-called “progressive” president we stand up and say “Not one More!” When the children of undocumented parents and undocumented youth have to pay as much as four times more for higher education, we recognize it as segregation in education. When hundreds of thousands of youth are denied their right to equal access to education by federal, state and institutional policies that place roadblocks in their paths, we call it a denial of their human rights. Along every step of the way the education system as it exists rejects the right of education for undocumented youth. These rights include access equity, tuition equity and quality equity. Students for a Democratic Society is resolved and committed to continue to stand in solidarity with the struggle for education for all undocumented youth and declares “Education for All!”

Education has been increasingly defined by a price tag as every aspect of education has been assessed for its value and measured in dollars. Graduates are burdened with years of crushing debts that are becoming increasingly impossible to pay. Seven out of every ten students graduating from a college or university has student loan debt. That is 1.3 million people every year that are accumulating massive debt to pay for education. The average debt nationwide is $29,400. For students graduating from the expanding ranks of for-profit colleges that debt increases to an average of $39,950. Average student debt has increased by 15-25% since 2008 depending on what type of school students attend. In 2013 there were 650,000 people who defaulted on their student loans who had begun repayment only two years earlier. These debts are continuing to grow each year as students graduate with more and more debt. This debt is continuing to default more and more each year. Thus this debt systemically is straining our society, our economy and our lives more and more. Students for a Democratic Society has long waged a struggle against university administration demanding, “No More Tuition Hikes!” While some universities continue to raise tuition, others “freeze” it temporarily. Whether it is a “freeze” or not, the debt continues to accumulate with graduates who enter a job market which has fewer jobs, lower wages and fewer benefits. As the burdens of debt grow and the economy remains limited in its opportunities the student debt bubble continues to grow bringing us closer and closer to when it pops. Students for a Democratic Society stands resolved to continue to fight tuition hikes until there is no more tuition. We remain committed to the struggle against student debt, against fee and tuition hikes and against increasing administrative payouts at students’ expense. National SDS is also committed to fight for student debt forgiveness.

Students for a Democratic Society knows that education is a value worth struggling for. We stand opposed to the disillusion that any denial of access is a consequence of apathy, ignorance or negligence. We stand opposed to denial of access to those who arrived in the United States recently or along a pathway deemed unconventional or “illegal.” We stand opposed to those who continue to insist that the economic burden of education must be shifted upon students and deferred to some future payment plan. Our education system exists today as the consequence of capitalism in crisis. Our education system exists today as the consequence of a crumbling white supremacist, colonial structure of injustice and inequality. Students for a Democratic Society declares that we can no longer remain apathetic about our education. We are committed to continue to struggle locally on our campuses and in our communities as well as nationally for education access for all and affordable education. Access to education for all is a right. Affordable education for all is a right. Education for all!

Resolution #6
SDS Must Continue the Education for All Campaign – by Tampa Bay, FL SDS

National Students for a Democratic Society has resolved to engage in and support the struggle of undocumented peoples in their fight for education rights, and more broadly, for their rights to live equal lives to documented peoples.

Undocumented students across America are faced with the daunting task of obtaining an education. Despite many undocumented students easily reaching the requirements for residency in their states, they are not eligible for in-state tuition at many public universities. Out of state tuition costs three to four times more than in-state tuition. In states that do offer in-state tuition for undocumented students, many are not eligible for financial aid. This leaves the vast majority of undocumented students unable to pay the reduced tuition. This is only compounded by the fact that most undocumented students come from financially unstable backgrounds. <eligibility requirements>

In 2014, Gainesville, Tallahassee, and Tampa Students for a Democratic Society, along with other groups, won in-state tuition for undocumented students after a hard-fought campaign on their campuses and against the state legislature. Currently, Youth Empowered in the Struggle is fighting for in-state tuition in Wisconsin. Both of these campaigns are part of the national Education for All campaign, a campaign that unites those in the struggle for education rights for undocumented students.

Currently, the only states that offer financial aid to undocumented students are Texas, Washington, Minnesota, California, and New Mexico. Any undocumented student who moves to nearly any state is ineligible for in-state tuition. Further, Alabama, South Carolina, and the top schools in Georgia ban undocumented students from attending their public universities.

National Students for a Democratic Society asserts that education is a right, and this extends to undocumented people as well. We call on all Students for a Democratic Society members and affiliates to fight for undocumented people's right to education, and support Education for All.

Resolution #7
No More Broken Promises, Obama! #Daca4ALL Resolution - by Tampa Bay, FL SDS
“Millions of dollars more were thrown at Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hunt down, threaten, detain and deport nearly 1000 immigrants EVERY DAY. These immigrants and their families are to continue being ripped apart just because the elections mean more to President Obama? Stop stalling, Deporter In Chief! DEFERRED ACTION FOR ALL NOW!”
  • Legalization for All Network

Obama and some Democratic Senators, including liberals like Al Franken of Minnesota, are worried that slowing the tide of deportations could hurt their election efforts in November 2014. While Obama has accused the Republicans of playing politics with the immigration issue, this latest action shows that he is also willing to sacrifice the hopes and dreams of millions of immigrants for political gain.

The Obama Administration has deported more than two million undocumented immigrants. While the rate of deportations has slowed from last year to about 750 per day, Obama’s delay of deportation relief will mean at least 50,000 more deportations. In addition, Obama continues to militarize the border with Mexico, killing thousands of Mexican and Central American immigrants.

The Legalization for All (L4A) Network, of which SDS is a part, calls on Obama to grant deferred action to all undocumented people.  As long as Congress refuses to act, why should Obama keep deporting those who might be eligible for a legalization program in the future? Rather than bowing again to the Republicans and right-wing anti-immigrant forces, Obama ought to look them in the eye and tell that he is going to take action since they refuse to do so.

Students for a Democratic Society will continue supporting any groups and movements that are currently pressuring President Obama and any local politicians to act in stopping deportations and granting deferred action for all now. Please sign the #Daca4ALL petition online and share.  LINK: bit.ly/Daca4AllPetition

Resolution #8
Students for a Democratic Society Stands Against All Police Brutality, Vigilante Murder & Mass Incarceration – By Tampa Bay, FL SDS

Students for a Democratic Society stands against police repression and militarization, particularly in its manifestations as brutality, racial profiling, and enforcement of white supremacy. We also stand in solidarity with the people's uprising in Ferguson, Missouri, which has highlighted the extreme emergency situation of oppressed nationalities in the United States. It also demonstrates the extreme measures to which they will bravely go to take back their streets, in a sustained series of protests that have yet to cease.

Local, state, and federal law enforcement units have always stolen the lives of innocent Black, Latin@, Asian, and other oppressed nationalities in the States. However, some stand-out cases over the past few years have led to persistent protests, such as Derek Williams & Dontre Hamilton in Wisconsin, Eric Garner in New York, and of course, Michael Brown in Missouri. In each of these cases, an unarmed Black man was stopped by police officers and killed before any investigation or conviction had a chance to take place.

White supremacist vigilantes, however, like George Zimmerman of Trayvon Martin's case, commonly get acquitted and walk free. The racism of the police is reinforced by the racism of the courts, with mass incarceration, Stop and Frisk policies, and laws like Stand Your Ground, and the Castle Doctrine in various states. These conditions have led to an enduring uprising in Ferguson, the creation of a new generation of young Black people who fight back against riot cops, unafraid, and has even received messages of solidarity from the oppressed people of Palestine. 

Students for a Democratic Society stands with the people of Ferguson, Missouri, in their struggle for liberation. SDS also condemns police repression, brutality, mass incarceration, militarization, and racial profiling. We are campaigning against those forces, and we believe that Black and Brown people should be free from white supremacy and its agents, the police.