SDSU’s Young Democratic Socialists spread their message


Mike McDonald

From left to right: Young Democratic Socialists members Willow Lark, Charles Marks and Joseph Tinglof.

by Mike McDonald, Contributor

Inauguration Day 2017 was a turning point for many Americans. For some, it was a call to action to combat a political system they say is failing the American people.

The Young Democratic Socialists of SDSU were organized Jan. 20, 2017 in response to the inauguration of Donald Trump, group co-chair Willow Lark said.

“We saw an immediate need to fill an existing leftist void on our campus,” she said, “to channel a lot of the student voices and concerns that really did not have a platform against the oppressive nature they saw Donald Trump bringing to office.”

She said she believes that a socialist system of workers owning the means of production, as opposed to capitalist privatized ownership, should exist within a democracy.

First-year doctorate student Charles Marks said educating people about socialism and dispelling long-standing myths is a critical step in growing their movement.

“Unfortunately, the way that mainstream culture thinks about socialism is this very demonized concept that goes back to McCarthyism,” he said. “Socialism is concerned with making sure that all folks have their basic human rights met. I think it’s a question of basic human decency.”

Computer science senior Joseph Tinglof agreed that the stigmatized term of socialism can be a burden.

“A lot of what socialism is, you come to on your own, “ he said. “It’s the natural way of thinking about things. If you describe to someone universal health care, they would probably think it’s a great idea. But you label it with socialism and they are like, ‘Wait, I didn’t know that was socialism.'”

Not seeing themselves as fitting into a two-party system, YDS said that theirs is a grassroots movement, starting from the bottom up.

“We are attempting to gain momentum from the base levels of society,” Finglof said. “In school council, city council, even mayoral seats. Neither party really considers the plight of the common working person. We are not the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.”

On campus, YDS members said they are trying to build solidarity and unity with other organizations to reach marginalized or disadvantaged students.

“Specifically were trying to unite students and answer questions on our very campus,” Lark said.

She said that, on campus, they are fighting for a $15 student minimum wage and the ability for student workers to unionize.

YDS wants the university to declare itself a “sanctuary campus” and to address student safety concerns, specifically addressing what they say is a rampant rape culture on campus. They said meal plans need to be restructured, and that it is unacceptable that credit unions are offering students loans to pay for their required plans, forcing students into further debt just to eat.

“When we talk about fear of food insecurity, housing insecurity, fear of rape culture, Islamophobia, what that really implies is that there are people in our community who are living with pain or fear,” Marks said. “It does not matter that some people don’t have that. The fact that there are members of our community (who) have to struggle through that should be painful for everybody. We don’t want any of that for anyone in our community.”

With on campus meetings every Friday at 2 p.m., YDS members they hope to spread their message to a wider audience. They said the best way to find out where the meetings are is via their Twitter handle, @ydsa_sdsu.