Drexel SDS Chapter Reportback

Drexel SDS began its work in February of 2008. By March, the chapter had a solid core of organizers, a viable campaign, plenty of attainable goals, and plans for an action at the end of the month. Since then, Drexel SDS has been successfully building its chapter and making steady progress with its campaign work.

At Drexel, SDS is organizing around the growing problem of debt at the university. 85% of Drexel students are currently in debt, which is 20% higher than the national average. This makes the Student Debt Relief campaign one that is very important and accessible to the whole student body. The campaign has also been successful in tying issues of debt to the war in Iraq. During the week of actions on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war, Drexel SDS held a “Drop Debt, Not Bombs” outdoor mobile dance party. Dozens of students danced through campus, drawing attention to the fact that education cuts are funding the war. This was also the kickoff of the Student Debt Relief campaign, and was very helpful in establishing a presence on campus.

In addition to the Drop Debt dance party, Drexel SDS has been doing tons of incredible things on campus to address student debt. SDS organizers have been doing extensive research into the causes and effects of debt, and pinpointing those that can be dealt with immediately. The first step, an ongoing one, is educating and listening to the students. A student debt survey was handed out to Drexel students to hear their opinions and concerns about student debt. SDS published an article in the school’s newspaper, revealing information about a debt scandal that had occurred at the university, and warning students about a nearing debt crisis. SDS has also hosted student-led debt workshops to help people understand and deal with their debt.

Another important step was making space for everyone to be aware of and get involved in this campaign. So, SDS began tabling and flyering on a regular basis, having parties for those interested, and even doing outreach at freshmen orientations. Drexel SDS has built relationships with other student organizations (one of which helped to organize debt workshops), faculty, administration, and staff who are very supportive of the work being done. With all of this encouragement and support, the debt relief work will be much easier and more effective.

Drexel SDS is currently in the process of lowering textbook prices and making course materials easily (and inexpensively) available to everyone who needs them. Strong support from the library staff, other student groups and professors is making this portion of the campaign very successful and its goals much more winnable. In the future, the chapter will be tackling larger issues that students are facing, including misspent funds, high tuition, and lack of budget transparency.


Temple SDS Reportback

Temple SDS was born in September of 2007 after Joanna Grim and Ian Smith began attending Progressive Student Union meetings. A month later, the two founders kicked off the DISorientation campaign along with three other progressive student organizations. This campaign made fourteen demands to the university’s administration, including the cessation of gentrification practices, and a tuition freeze. This resulted in a couple news articles for Temple SDS.

Temple SDS began the recruitment phase to up its members in February 2008. They sponsored and aided an anti-war community rally and picnic in April with two other local organizations, New Jerusalem and Grannies Against the War.

A month later, Temple SDS kicked off the Student Debt Relief campaign with a tabling event called Debt Roulette, which was a demonstration to raise awareness of the rising cost of education. Students passing by were able to see that student debt does not have to be tolerated. An after-party was held to welcome new people to the chapter.

With newly arriving SDSers from Lancaster, September will kick off a groundbreaking year for Temple SDS. They are planning to continue the Student Debt Relief campaign, and win a tuition freeze by November 2008. Slowly but surely, Temple SDS is establishing a fully autonomous university and a seamless student union.

Sarah Lawrence (SLC) SDS Reportback

This past semester, Sarah Lawrence SDSers organized with student organizers and club members unaffiliated with SDS in order to launch a campaign to transform the structure and nature of the SLC student senate. Over the course of the 07-08 school year, there had been incidents of racism in senate’s funding procedures: some events planned for Asian-American History Month were denied funding on the basis of catering to a small amount of students. This incident showed the underlying lack of accountability and transparency in the senate structure.

After starting a dialogue with some senate leaders in February, we agreed to appear at a senate meeting to start a larger discussion there. However, the senate Vice President Lauren Glowzenski tyrannically refused to put us on the senate agenda for weeks and weeks. With no other option, the student activists busted into a senate meeting in March, having forewarned many of our senate allies, and demanded that the agenda be reorganized to prioritize our concerns. Our three demands were as follows:

1) Increase accountability through actualizing the club liason system (which matches clubs with senate members) during club chair training
2) Increase transparency by publishing senate notes, making the funding board open to the public, and ending the secret ballot
3) End racism, transphobia, etc. in the senate structure through having mandatory anti-oppression trainings for senate each fall

After many frustrating weekly meetings with student senate, we finally got all of these demands passed! Throughout the summer we will be helping out with the organizing of the anti-oppression training for senate and cooking up new campaigns for the fall. SLC SDS and our allies are very pleased to watch our senate structure evolve into a more radical, democratic, and participatory structure.

Olympia SDS sitting in their administration building!

On Wednesday, May 21st, Olympia SDS began a heroic nonviolent occupation of the office of the President of Evergreen State College, to demand the re-instatement of their SDS chapter as a recognized student organization. The sit-in continues into its sixth day and Olympia SDS is not backing down.

Operating under its concept of dual power, Olympia SDSers decided to use the space they are occupying to create alternative and liberatory education and public space. On Memorial Day, Olympia SDS is calling for the first day of classes to start at the “People’s University”.

Supporters outside of the area are encouraged to call Wendy Freeman, who will make the final decision about the status of SDS next week, to tell her you support SDS and demand the group be reinstated.

Wendy Freeman Director of the Career Development Center



Please email olympiasds@riseup.net with questions or words of encouragement and love.


Providence SDS is a city-wide chapter composed of the Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design, and Rhode Island College SDS chapters, as well as students and youth from other area universities, high schools, and the broader community. We formed in the summer of 2007 and have recently seen an increase in capacity, especially with the formation of the RISD and RIC chapters.

During the last several months, we’ve organized around a variety of issues, specifically: war and imperialism, public space reclamation, and immigrant rights. For the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, we signed on to the national SDS M20 Working Group campaign and organized a week of action. We kicked the week off with the first Providence Funk the War, funking through downtown Providence, taking over the central bus terminal and draping a “Resist U.S. Empire” banner over a war memorial! The next day we participated in a march organized by a coalition of peace groups of which we are a reluctant yet vibrant portion. On March 20th we finished the week with an occupation of a National Guard recruitment center. Outside, SDSers and other Providence activists read out names of Iraqi, Afghani, and American victims of American Imperialism. Inside eight SDSers blocked the door for almost two hours before the Providence Police arrested them. The charges resulting from this action have since been dropped.

Drawing on the success of the initial Funk the War and M20 week of action, we organized two more Funk the Wars for the Iraq Moratorium dates in April and May. Both events moved into the streets, halting traffic, drawing cheers, and befuddling the Providence police. The actions targeted the recruiting centers in Providence as well as the world headquarters of war profiteer Textron Inc. Funk the War II was particularly successful, drawing nearly 100 funkers to rove the streets of Providence with impunity. Funk the War III, poorly attended by our Brown and RISD base, who had mostly left town, was less successful. We feel this was largely due to inadequate planning caused by the stress of finals. However, the action drew many spontaneous supporters and managed to block the exit of Textron at the close of the business day.

In late March, Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri placed Rhode Island at the forefront of state-sponsored oppression of immigrants by signing an executive order mandating that state police perform the work of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and requiring all state employers to use the critically flawed E-Verify system. E-Verify encourages racist hiring practices and has an error rate of nearly ten percent. We have joined a coalition of community groups to oppose these actions. Over the last two months, we have participated in numerous marches and rallies, action planning meetings, and the storming of the Governor’s policy advisor’s office. We will continue resist racist, anti-immigrant policies and work to establish Providence as a sanctuary city and Rhode Island as a sanctuary state.

Over the summer, we plan to organize a series of Critical Mass rides around the state in opposition to the proposed fare increase on RI Public Transit, expand our accessible education campaign around the city, and build a coalition to fight evictions. Additionally we plan to focus on building our organization’s capacity and base by reaching out to new members, especially at universities in Providence without SDS chapters and in Providence High Schools.

Ohio University SDS

Here’s an awesome detailed reportback from Olivia of OU SDS (in Athens):

here’s a basic list of what athens sds has been doing and is planning to do:

–last year, we collected signatures to put several questions on the student
senate ballot asking students to rate how much confidence they have in the
administration’s ability to govern the university. 78% of voters (1/4 the
student body, the highest number of voters in OU history) responded they have no confidence in the administration. the faculty presented the same vote where 77% of respondents (about 1/2 the faculty) voted no confidence. the president publicly dismissed the votes, calling them “inconclusive.” to follow up, this past fall, the board of trustees publicly expressed their full confidence in the
president and subsequently created a policy where the president would be
evaluated every 5 years (at the end of his or her term), rather than each year, and would not accept input from constituent groups. the student senate then presented a resolution rejecting their proposal and urging the president to speak up in the name of shared governance (something he pretends exists).
neither the president nor the trustees budged.

–also last spring, sds member will klatt ran as an independent candidate for
president of student senate and only lost by 16 votes. (note: the other 2
candidates campaigned extensively and had parties consisting of about 30 members).

–last winter, several sds members were targeted while participating in an
anti-war rally by an administrator who alleged we (not the organizers of the
event) had to leave immediately because we didn’t have the right to be there– we had not reserved the space to hold the protest. we soon found out that the university has a policy that restricted “free speech” to several arbitrary and highly inconvenient “zones” on campus; these spaces must be reserved in order to be able to, in essence, be occupied– and even then, only by established student organizations and only at particular times of day. we demanded the formation of a committee (on which several of us served) to re-write the university policy and submitted a proposal to the administration who ignored many of our recommendations. the new policy can be found here:

–this year, we have put together a party (called the birthday party) to run for student senate for next year with many sds members on it, as well as members of the republican and democrat groups and others. although the student senate only has the power of suggestion, we are going to push to become a decision making body. we’re running on the platform of:
1. voting rights for all constituent groups on the board of trustees;
2. checks and balances – giving constituent groups the right to make actual
decisions regarding issues that effect them;
3. making the general fee committee a policy-making body – the “general” fee is our money and we want to have control over what it goes to;
4. reforming the harsh, reactionary alcohol and marijuana policies that were made against the recommendations of the student-run policy making committee.

Some longer term goals include:
1. pressuring the state to lower tuition by returning to a tax-based system
rather than out-of-pocket;
2. getting our student-run radio station back on the air after 8 years of being exclusively online after the FCC changed a policy;
3. actual, concrete, visible steps to reducing the university’s energy use,
rather than just signing on to the “campus climate challenge” which does not
require any change for 10 years, and even then only minimal changes;
4. we see diversity as transcending just race, but also encompassing religion, thought, sexual orientation, class, gender, and sex – therefore we want the university to include ALL diversity when recruiting future students;
5. we acknowledge that the university has been taking steps to improve student health services, but we feel it is important that STD tests are free or
significantly more affordable, and mental health services are more available and higher quality.

–at the end of the quarter, we are going to have a day-long benefit concert
with all local bands whose proceeds will go to the students who were forced to drop out of school because they were sued by the RIAA for downloading music illegally. we’ll have free cds and raise awareness about the issues of
intellectual property, copyright laws, and the like.

–like last year, every friday (the last half of spring quarter) we have a “free
store” in the center of campus. the idea is that everyone brings stuff they
don’t want anymore to the designated spot and is free to take whatever other people brought to get rid of, even if they haven’t brought anything. we have
some info on consumption and whatnot.

–some goals for the future:
1. if elected to the student senate, we want to push to get voting rights for
both the constituencies’ senates and for ALL trustees. that, to us, is shared
2. we hope to build connections with other student groups in order to exchange ideas, work together on projects, and build a strong and cohesive alliance to stand up for student rights.
3. we want to continue to hold forums and workshops on campus in order to
encourage kids
4. we want to hold the administration accountable for suddenly firing 37 union employees (mostly maintenance and grounds) last year, giving the current “budget crunch” as their reason. however, they simultaneously hired 3 administrators. we and the union consider each other allies and want to continue to demand their rehiring.
5. although not immediately, we want to demand that the university stop buying paper from companies such as office max who employ some really fucked up and unethical business practices.
6. we want to continue to build a sustainability-minded student body and
community in order to make significant reductions in OU’s negative environmental impact. for example, expanding the recycling program, realizing the existing composting idea, encouraging future renovations to be sustainable, etc.
7. see: senate party platform.

To get in touch with Olivia, email her at od326605@ohio.edu.

Shippensburg University SDS

Here is a brief reportback of what is going on at Shippensburg University SDS:

Were still maintaining the same membership.  we did hold a small event where we had a DJ play while we got people to register to vote because university police stopped our (M20) walkout.  since then our meetings have been less productive as the semester was coming to an end and everyones focus turned to their class work.  for next semester we are currently trying to coordinate a meeting time which works for everyone.

To get in touch with them contact Zach at zz3535[at]ship.edu.