Mathew Wolfsen joined other Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) members from Georgia at the YDSA winter conference, held Feb. 16-18 in Washington D.C. Some 350 members from more than 80 schools attended. Matthew and six others came from Ga Tech, with two recent Tech graduates, a recent Emory U. graduate and one student each from U. Ga. and U. of West Ga. During the long ride home, he sent this report. –Editor
The conference was what student activists needed. There was very clearly a stronger focus on praxis over theory: How to organize. How to branch. How to cultivate leaders. It didn’t shove theory forward. It enabled students to carry out their own politics. I loved that.
It brought real and controversial issues forward in a space that was safe for critical but fruitful and friendly discussion. With the exception of one situation that was almost entirely laughed off, no one was overtly confrontational, but rather collaborative. And, it allowed time for networking. For example, I met individuals from Colorado, West Virginia, and Indiana who I plan to keep up with.
Several Ga Tech students who were involved with the activism related to Scout Schultz’s death [at the hands of campus police] came to the conference to learn how to be more effective with their actions. In a panel about students unionizing against the administration and student government (photo, right), the panelists asked two of the Ga Tech students about the backlash they faced in organizing for a cause, and were completely shocked when they heard what they had to deal with. Other students from Pittsburgh, Savannah, Chattanooga, and San Antonio pledged their support and some even promised to travel to Atlanta to help if needed.
Overall, the conference struck a nice balance in programming with a clearly organized goal of empowering students. I enjoyed my time in DC, and I won’t forget it anytime soon. – Matthew Wolfsen
Editor’s Note: According to the Washington Post, after NRA CEO Wayne LePierre warned attendees at the Conservative PAC’s conference about YDSA’s 100 campus chapters, our national YDSA co-chair Michelle Fisher responded: “The real red scare is the tide of blood the NRA and their lap dogs in Congress have brought to our schools. [We’re] growing because people across the country have had enough of corrupt politicians sacrificing the lives of children for the NRA’s freedom to profit. They buy their power, we build ours.”