Young Democratic Socialists
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|Young Democratic Socialists|
|Headquarters||75 Maiden Lane, Ste 702
New York City, NY 10038
|Mother party||Democratic Socialists of America|
|International affiliation||International Union of Socialist Youth|
Young Democratic Socialists (YDS) is the student section of the Democratic Socialists of America, the largest socialist political organization in the United States. As Democratic Socialists of America is the American affiliate of the Socialist International, Young Democratic Socialists is the American affiliate of the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY).
Formerly known as the "Democratic Socialists of America Youth Section", the organization played a significant role in the 1980s in the movements against apartheid in South Africa and U.S. intervention in Central America. It helped introduce many student activists to trade union struggles, with many of the organization's alums going on to become labor organizers and union staff members. In the late 1990s YDS chapters, most notably the ones at Ithaca College and Arizona State University, became heavily involved in the national movement against the prison-industrial complex. Chapters tried to force colleges to cancel their contracts with food service provider Sodexho Marriott because its parent company, Sodexho Alliance, owned stock in Corrections Corporation of America, a for-profit prison company.
More recently, YDS had a contingent march in the NYSPC section of the United for Peace and Justice march against the Iraq war in Washington, DC on January 27, 2007. In September 2009, YDS members participated in a march against the G20 in Pittsburgh. In October 2010, dozens of YDS members joined the union-sponsored One Nation Working Together march in DC.
YDS chapters and members are encouraged to pursue and promote a democratic socialist political education and participate in social justice activism, often taking part in anti-war, labor and student-issue marches and rallies. Each year, YDS members vote on an agenda for the chapters to adopt. This year, the issue it is an anti-racist agenda. The organization publishes an internal newsletter called The Red Letter, and its members run and contribute to their official blog, The Activist. The organization's most visible current national activities revolve around supporting initiatives for their parent organization, Democratic Socialists of America, and organizing various national conferences, usually held in New York City.
The organization runs two annual conferences per year: a large outreach conference in the winter, and a smaller retreat during the summer that focuses on internal leadership development or regional community building. In the past, outreach conferences have featured keynote speakers such as Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, journalist and author Barbara Ehrenreich, The Nation correspondent Christian Parenti, and Columbia University professor Gayatri Spivak. Other speakers include Dan Cantor of the Working Families Party, Christian Parenti, author and journalist Liza Featherstone, Temple University professor Joseph Schwartz, long-time activist Steve Max, and sociologist Frances Fox Piven.
The organization is run by a coordinating committee consisting of two co-chairs; Kayla Pace from Visalia, California and Spencer Brown of Wesleyan University, four at-large members; Meghan Brophy of New Jersey, Jack Suria Linares of Hamilton College, Andrew Shelton of Dorchester, Massachusetts, Hannah Zimmerman of LaGuardia High School; and the Editor of The Activist blog as a non-voting member.
The group has a number of current chapters across the country. The strongest are at Lamar University, City College of New York, and University of California, Davis. Previous well-known chapters have included those at University of Chicago, James Madison University, the University of Central Oklahoma, Sewanee: The University of the South, and Lindsey Wilson College. YDS also has numerous members at large without chapters, who usually work through other progressive groups to articulate an active democratic socialist presence in campus and community politics.
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