Every year, students have the opportunity to create new student organizations through the Student Engagement Office and Student Government Association. During the 2019 fall semester, 7 new student organizations were created. One of those new organizations was a Concordia College chapter of Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA).
The mission of Concordia’s YDSA chapter is to promote economic and social justice while advocating for a world without capital.
In the words of senior and founding member Signe Johnson, the mission of YDSA is to “Create a more just society and campus by radically transforming structures of government and social democracy so the average, ordinary person can participate in all decisions that affect their lives.”
Young Democratic Socialists of America is the youth and student chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, which is the largest socialist organization in the United States. YDSA has chapters at high schools and colleges throughout the country. Concordia’s YDSA chapter is sponsored by the Red River Valley Democratic Socialists of America.
Leo Smith is a sophomore and the president of Concordia’s YDSA chapter.
“I wanted to start this organization because I felt that, around campus, there is a lot of talk about the issues in the world but not enough talk about why they are happening systemically. Not enough attention is paid to how capitalism breeds poverty, discrimination, and exploitation of people and nature. Through YDSA, I wanted to be able to bring more attention to the systemic nature of real-world issues,” Smith said.
Other founding members, like Treasurer Alexander Hernandez, felt that there was not a voice for more far-left leaning students on campus.
“I felt like a leftist perspective was missing from the college conversation,” Hernandez said.
Citing the same issue, Johnson agreed.
“I wanted to be a part of something different in which my voice, opinions, and idea of what our governmental system should be would be lifted up. A space in which we fight for all people instead of the wealthy,” she said.
Aside from their weekly meetings, YDSA is planning many events for the rest of the school year. Their most recent event was canvassing in the residence halls for Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign ahead of the recent Super Tuesday primary, which Minnesota participated in. Sanders lost the Minnesota primary to former Vice President Joe Biden. The group also participates in events put on by the Red River Valley Democratic Socialists of America, such as the climate strike that happened in Fargo in the fall.
“We have a multitude of events and ideas spanning from weekly discussions on socialism, presidential elections, as well as mobilizing our current student body through canvassing, phone banking, as well as conversing to find commonalities and places to act,” Johnson said.
Smith expressed that all students on-campus should feel comfortable attending YDSA events, whether they consider themselves democratic socialists or not.
“We are founded upon purely democratic principles, so YDSA is entirely what our
members want it to be. We welcome all ideologies and perspectives to contribute
to our activities and discussions, and anyone can come and learn about
alternatives to capitalism,” he said.
According to Johnson, when they attend a meeting or event students can except, “Rich conversation and community. A place where you can be truly heard and validated as those spaces are rare at Concordia. It is a community of people who want to fight for their peers, make the community richer, and work towards change.”
YDSA meets every Monday from 8 to 9 PM in Grose 236 and welcomes all students to their meetings. The organization has both a Facebook and Instagram page for anyone looking for more information.
Annie is a senior double-majoring in Environmental Studies and Heritage and Museum Studies, as well as minoring in German. She loves adventures, coffee, and dogs. This is her third year with the Concordian.