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.

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