Building YDSA Across Los Angeles

Lead Contact: YDSA Coordinator Ari Berrong-Huber in coalition with the YDSAs of Los Angeles Valley College, Los Angeles Pierce College, Santa Monica College, UCLA, and Palisades Charter High School

Introduction

Summary: This proposal would prioritize the establishment of a Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter in each of the nine community colleges in the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) by the next Annual Convention in 2020 and a joint effort to collectively organize these YDSA chapters towards mass political action. Furthermore, it would prioritize the creation of a Working Group to assess our present organizing capacity at the site of education, coordinate with other committees, pursue the rank-and-file strategy amongst staff, faculty, and campus workers, and determine how best to proceed in developing a program which comprehensively engages the chapter with the community on a front of collective struggle against neoliberalism and privatization.

Whereas:

  • The recent teachers’ strike has seen the largest mobilization in chapter history, and the largest worker’s action in recent Los Angeles history, and has garnered the chapter a good deal of goodwill from both the United Teachers of Los Angeles and American Federation of Teachers unions based on our widely-documented public support for the strike.
  • Student support for the strikes was critical to the success and consciousness raising of young people throughout the city.
  • Community colleges are highly open and accessible to members of the public both in terms of access and enrollment, provide their clubs with numerous benefits including resources and facilities, and serve as critical points of continuity between high schools and four-year universities.
  • The Los Angeles Community College District (hereafter the LACCD) in particular is largely comprised of working-class students of all ages and demographics, who typically live in the communities where they attend classes
    • From the LACCD website: “LACCD educates almost three times as many Latino students and nearly four times as many African-American students as all of the University of California campuses combined. Eighty percent of LACCD students are from underserved populations.”
  • Building on this popular wave of enthusiasm and solidarity between students and teachers, we can establish inroads at LACCD and other community college districts (Pasadena, Glendale, etc.) to take advantage of the moment.
  • Doing so would give the Chapter access to considerable community resources and vastly grow our membership in the short- and long-term.

Be it Resolved:

  • DSA-LA will actively prioritize the establishment of YDSAs at community colleges as a method for recruiting and developing young local organizers, building closer ties with teachers across campuses,and allowing the chapter access to considerable public resources that the LACCD and other community college districts provide to official student clubs.
  • DSA-LA will actively prioritize the establishment of a YDSA-LA Working Group to assess existing membership capacity for YDSAs across the city and to evaluate steps required to expand YDSA chapters across the entire LACCD and beyond.
  • DSA-LA will actively support YDSA chapters in any effort they pursue to self-organize inter-campus coordination to advance their own local and national YDSA Priorities.

I. Resolution Description & Timeline

ASSESSMENT

  • First, the YDSA-LA Working Group will survey Chapter membership and determine which of its members are students / faculty / staff at existing high schools and colleges throughout the county. This will be done through a total membership survey of the entire Chapter.

DEVELOPMENT

  • From there, the Chapter will use the Spring and Summer of 2019 to develop YDSA Curriculum, encouraging all committees to develop Materials (discussions, presentations, events, etc.) to be taught to YDSA organizers to build recruitment capacity and education content for general YDSA meetings, who will then open these meetings to the general public for wider consumption.
  • The Chapter will actively encourage membership with free time to pursue any of the following:
    • (1) continuing education classes in Spanish / Armenian / other language(s) to bolster bilingual capacities within the organization
    • (2) cheap 1- or 2-unit classes in areas of personal development (such as exercise, arts, music, or theater) for their own satisfaction
  • This will be done with a focus on neighborhoods, aiming to get multiple DSA members in classes at the same time to get people regularly collaborating together.
    • This will further help bolster numbers at LACCD campuses where there currently is a limited DSA presence.
  • The Chapter will reach out to contacts in AFT/UTLA/other professional unions on campus developed through our common work in the teacher’s strike to find sympathetic instructors or staff who would be willing to serve as Faculty Advisors to fledgling YDSAs at other campuses where there is no presence; this may be easier than we think as many faculty in the LACCD teach on multiple campuses.

ACTIVATION

  • In the Fall of 2019, we will begin rapidly chartering YDSAs. The YDSA organizers will begin implementing the Curricula developed by DSA-LA Committees, with a specific focus on broadening political education and making it publically accessible all over the city.
    • The Curricula will be broadly implemented at the same time across LACCD, striving for a general program developed through democratic consensus.
  • Of the 21 total in LA county, there are 9 campuses in LACCD; 2 of which (Los Angeles Valley College and Los Angeles Pierce College) are already chartered or pending charter. Each campus has its own rules for chartering a student organization, but they tend to be similar with minor variations on number of students required for club solvency.
  • YDSAs on campus, once chartered, will begin forging their own relationships with faculty and staff on campus facilitated by the YDSA Coordinator acting on behalf of Steering.
    • YDSAs on LACCD campuses can also request campus facilities to be used for DSA-LA activities, such as Chapter Meetings or Committee meetings.
    • This is already done at LAVC, where the SFV Branch Meeting is held; where reserving the space and the equipment required to conduct a meeting currently costs the organization no money.
    • Here is a map of all of the colleges within the LACCD district; it is clear that establishing a presence in these places would this would dramatically increase the reach of our organization.
    • Assisting Los Angeles Harbor College in getting chartered should also allow us to collaborate more closely with DSA Long Beach.
    • Having YDSAs in the Antelope Valley and Santa Clarita Valley would help develop eventual branches there.

TIMELINE

  • January-April 2019: Popular enthusiasm and recognition amongst students and teachers for DSA-LA is at an all-time high, following our widely-documented public support for the strike.
    • YDSA trainings are currently under development based on work at Santa Monica College and other YDSAs currently being charted at local high schools.
  • May 2019: upon adoption of the resolution, conduct a membership survey.
    • May 1: YDSA bloc contingent gathers at May Day to show student solidarity and calls for new YDSAs at unactivated campuses.
    • Send a specific secondary survey to those who signed up for the organization (or replied to the first survey) to gauge interest in contributing to a YDSA at their campus.
  • June - August 2019: Committees develop Material for submission to a wider Curriculum, which will be divided into 2 Semesters.
    • Coordination with faculty and YDSA members to facilitate chartering process in Fall.
    • Monday 6/10/19: Organizers visit LACCD campuses in the first week of Summer classes to find interested students for the upcoming Fall.
    • July 2019: YDSA-LA Working Group presents quarterly update on Resolution progress to entire Chapter at Branch meetings.
  • August 2019, target month: Fall Semester begins at LACCD; chartering of YDSA chapters at all LACCD campuses.
    • Prospective YDSA members and Faculty Advisors coordinate in advance for rapid chartering and processing of paperwork.
    • DSA members in neighborhoods close to LACCD campuses help table to sign up students for the YDSA.
    • DSA members may themselves sign up for Fall classes, if necessary to meet membership criteria for YDSA establishment.
    • First Semester of Curriculum begins.
  • September 2019: assuming successful chartering and coordination with YDSA and Steering, campus facilities become available for general use for DSA-LA activities.
    • First Semester of Curriculum is carried out.
  • October 2019 - December 2019: First Semester of Curriculum is carried out.
    • Semesterly Dues Drive
    • YDSAs begin to establish relationships with other student organizations and invite them to engage in common work.
    • October 2019: YDSA-LA Working Group presents quarterly update on Resolution progress to entire Chapter at Branch meetings.
  • December 2019 - January 2020: Winter break.
    • YDSA leadership and Steering convene to evaluate chartering progress.
    • Evaluation of Curriculum implementation and progress.
    • YDSA-LA Working Group presents quarterly update on Resolution progress to entire Chapter at Branch meetings.
  • January 2020: Winter semester begins.
    • Organizers visit LACCD campuses in the first week of Summer classes to find interested students for the upcoming Spring.
  • February 2020: Spring semester begins.
    • YDSAs recharter as necessary per LACCD campus rules.
    • Second Semester of Curriculum begins.
    • YDSAs continue to develop relationships with existing student organizations.
  • March - April 2020: YDSAs continue to develop relationships with other student organizations
    • Semesterly Dues Drive
    • Second Semester of Curriculum is carried out (with a presumed focus on Earth Day).
  • April 2020: Annual Convention, YDSA-LA Working Group presents year-end summary to chapter to report how implementation went and propose further resolutions based on findings.

II. Aligned Organizational Priorities

This proposed Chapter Resolution clearly satisfies the criteria outlined in the Mission Statement:

  • Internal Organization and Infrastructure: providing actual infrastructure in terms of community resources (buildings and community college funds) that can be made readily available for organization activities and functions.
  • Strategic Partnership: developing closer relationships with educator unions, student activists, and community organizers by working together in common spaces on common causes.
  • Mobilization and Membership Capacity: activating rank-and-file membership and building membership capacity in bold new directions the likes of which the organization has yet to leverage.

III. Mobilization and Member Capacity

This proposed Chapter Resolution is explicitly oriented towards a membership capacity growth and coalition-building strategy focused at the uniquely infrastructural resource-bountiful organizing site of community college campuses.

IV. Committee and Working Group Cooperation

Committees & WGs
This resolution does not demand these specific goals underlined below be met by these Committees; the following are a series of hypothetical ways each committee could contribute in support of this resolution.

This is a two-way street, where Committees would also be able to make requests of YDSAs for resources and campus spaces by which they can conduct their own meetings or other committee actions.

This initiative will also encourage new YDSA members to become active members of DSA-LA Committees, particularly when highlighting the benefits of LA Chapter involvement in the semesterly dues drive.

CLIMATE JUSTICE COMMITTEE
Development of Material for the Curriculum with a specific focus on Earth Day and the necessity of acting urgently to combat climate change. Highlight the strategic role community colleges can play in a Green New Deal as epicenters for Job-Retraining leading to Guaranteed Job Placement. Assistance with coordination of a Transit 4 All program, by which community college students could obtain free (or heavily subsidized) Metro passes.

HEALTHCARE COMMITTEE
Development of Material for the Curriculum with a specific focus on Medicare 4 All and the necessity of comprehensive single payer health care in the United States. Assistance with the development of a guide for navigating the Health Centers of the LACCD, with a focus on bringing awareness to routine STI testing and free contraceptives that campuses provide.

IMMIGRATION JUSTICE COMMITTEE
Development of Material for the Curriculum with a specific focus on immigration justice and the necessity of abolishing ICE in the United States. Assistance with the development of a resource guide for undocumented students.

MUTUAL AID COMMITTEE
Development of Material for the Curriculum with a specific focus on skill-sharing and mutual aid. Assistance with implementation and operation of Brake Light Clinics using LACCD parking lots. (This is currently being done at LAVC.) Assistance with operating free (or heavily subsidized) First Aid / CPR trainings using LACCD resources.

POLITICAL EDUCATION COMMITTEE
Development of Material for the Curriculum with a specific focus on leftist political theory and its history and implementation in the United States.

ELECTORAL POLITICS COMMITTEE
Development of Material for the Curriculum with a specific focus on local elections and candidates. Assistance with voter registration for new college students (and those otherwise interested). Assist YDSA Chapters with Student Elections to boards sanctioned as official representative bodies in the California Community Colleges Code of Shared Governance. Assist YDSA Chapters in Power-Mapping their Boards of Trustees

LABOR COMMITTEE
Development of Material for the Curriculum with a specific focus on labor history in the United States. Assistance with coordinating joint actions (May Day) / solidarity building with AFT / employee unions on LACCD campuses and/or UTLA on high-school campuses.

HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS COMMITTEE
Development of Material for the Curriculum with a specific focus on homelessness in the United States, especially as it affects the city of Los Angeles. Assistance with coordinating student food/clothing/blanket drives and routine YDSA-led Street Watches.

MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE
Assistance with coordinating existing DSA-LA members who are active students or faculty with the express purpose of expanding YDSAs to LACCD campuses, high schools, and other colleges. Close coordination with RICE and YDSA-LA Working Group for survey results and membership updates. Coordinating joint YDSA-Memcom zine-printing parties.

AGIT-PROP COMMITTEE
Development of Material for the Curriculum with a focus on skill-sharing and development of new agitprop. Assistance with guides on creating agit-prop.

NOLYMPICS WORKING GROUP
Development of Material for the Curriculum with a specific focus on the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics and what it means for the city. This proposal would facilitate a robust on campus presence for NOlympics, connecting the committee with academics willing to engage in research, and create on-campus spaces for messaging and events.

PRISON ABOLITION COMMITTEE
Development of Material for the Curriculum with a focus on abolishing prisons. Assistance with prisoner letter-writing campaigns.

Click here to view signatories