Category Archives: Northeast

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.

PROVIDENCE SDS CHAPTER REPORT-BACK

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.

The PAST:
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.

The FUTURE:
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.

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.

West Chester University SDS

Here is a short reportback from a member of WCU SDS:

We are in the early stages (We’ve only been around for about a month) but we’ve already held some large and small events, picketing at the post office on tax day, and a few peace demonstrations including drawing chalk outlines of bodies on the steps of the student union and anti-war slogans on the Quad on the day of the college republicans “Support Our Troops” rally (the administration loved that), as well as handing out flyers about recruiters…   The Chapter organizing has gone really well, we’ve had a lot of support students (and faculty surprisingly)  and are growing quickly.  our facebook group has about 50 members, although usually only about 10-25 come to meetings depending on the day because this is a bad time of year.

Some of the issues/projects this chapter is working on include: University bylaw reform, antiwar actions, anti-recruitment actions, tax resistance education, advocacy of participatory democracy, local unionization, environmental action, drug law reform, prison system reform

If you would like to reach this chapter you can find them on Facebook or contact Andrew Barrett at ab665276[at]wcupa.edu.

Eastern Connecticut State University SDS

We have seven members so far, many of whom are interested in Green Party initiatives, helping the community through programs such as Food Not Bombs, and pursuing counter-recruitment on campus next semester.

We will also try to keep in touch this summer over the Internet to at least plan for meetings this fall. Since we will probably not become an official campus club, we may eventually become the Willimantic CT SDS.

Other than that, the Eastern Connecticut State University SDS hopes to keep in touch with local chapters and other programs such as Connecticut Opposes the War (COW) to stay aware, active, and help however we can. To stay in touch with ECSU SDS you can email me at rebecca.obern[at]gmail.com.