October 29, 2011
Milwaukee, WI – On November 12th, over a hundred student organizers from across the country will gather here to participate in the 6th annual National Convention of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). SDS was re-founded in 2006 in response to the upsurge of war in the Middle East and the need for a united, national multi-issue radical student and youth organization in the United States.
Convention organizers state, “War, corporate bailouts, and the privatization of should-be public sector institutions like schools, lie in direct contradiction to what the government should be protecting: housing, education, and health care.”
In October, SDS chapters throughout the country took to the streets demanding money for jobs and education, not war and occupation. Within the Occupation Movement, students everywhere are saying “Bailout students, not banks!” and are calling for an end to student debt and the creation of student loan forgiveness programs.
According to Stephanie Taylor of Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Minnesota, “Today, students are facing sky-rocketing tuition and attending universities that are more like corporations than schools. Most of us can’t afford an education, and either don’t go to college, or go and graduate with a lifetime of debt. Either way, students and young people are entering an economy with soaring unemployment and many are struggling to survive. The big banks are rolling in profits while the rest of us get deeper in debt. We say, ‘Bail out students, not banks!'”
This year at the National Convention, SDS plans to highlight the political repression that is faced by progressive activists, specifically those targeted by the FBI for their anti-war and international solidarity work. Speakers will include Stephanie Weiner, a Chicago-based activist who is active with the Palestine Solidarity Group, a member of AFSCME 3506, and a target of FBI repression and grand-jury resister. Also speaking will be Scott Crow, a community organizer, writer, and speaker who, because of his affiliations with progressive causes, was labeled a “domestic terrorist” and was the subject of FBI surveillance for almost a decade.
Finally, Carlos Montes will be speaking via Skype. Montes was one of the founding members of the Brown Berets, and organization that fought for Chicano liberation the ‘60s and ‘70s. He later founded Latinos Against War and was a main national organizer of the protests at the Republican National Convention in 2008. In May, Montes’ home was raided and he was arrested. He is now facing trumped up felony charges that carry up to 18-years in prision.
Workshops and breakout sessions will provide space for SDSers to teach each other organizing skills and learn about political struggles going on throughout the country. Sessions this year will involve speakers on Occupy Wall Street, Troy Davis and the Injustice System, Campaign Building on Campuses, Protesting the NATO/G8, Gender & Sexuality, Building the Fight Against Political Repression and more.
Mike Gold of Milwaukee SDS explains the importance of the convention, “I’m excited about the convention because it really allows us to grow closer as a national organization, which is better for our work. It’s really cool to meet activists from all over and hear what they’ve been up to. Plus, it gives us new ideas for our own local work.”
SDS chapters from New Jersey to Minneapolis, D.C. to Chicago, Florida to Vermont will converge in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to discuss new ideas for action, learn from each others successes, and lay the ground work for upcoming national mobilizations in the spring.