Points of Unity
Commitment to Struggle
We in National Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) strive to build a long-lasting and resilient political organization led by students and youth, to fight back against the system we live under controlled by the rich. The following principles outline the issues that matter to students and youth that we organize around. Currently, our campuses are not run with the interests of students and working people in mind. Administrations want to invest in military technology and to become expensive, exclusive and “elite.” We are fighting to win diverse and accessible campuses, affordable education, and vibrant curricula. We also take the fight beyond just our campuses. We organize in our communities and workplaces to protect each other from police terror, deportations, war, and to liberate each other from a capitalist society. Such a society leaves working and oppressed people powerless to control our lives, and often our friends and family die overseas, suffer from addiction, die of poverty and of neglect. The ability to liberate ourselves will be based on our resolve to be committed and visible organizers and to strike blows from the front lines against racist administrators, police, politicians, and all others who maintain our oppression.
Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!
I. Economic Justice
SDS remains vigilant, and active in opposing cuts to education that result in a raising of tuition, fees, or other expenses for students. SDS believes education is a right, and that the money we spend on war, police militarization, and tax cuts for rich would be better spent on education, infrastructure and general welfare.
A) Education For All!
Accessibility in education must mean affordability. Increasing privatization in universities has led to unbearably high tuition and decreasing services in the drive for profit. Through the campaign Education For All! We strive for affordable and free tuition.
B) Fight Cuts!
SDS opposes all cuts to ethnic and gender studies programs from racist and sexist administrations seeking to increase profits at the expense of students. We also oppose any and cuts to EBT, welfare programs, and primary education, and believe that necessary cuts should follow a “Chop from the Top” model, i.e., elimination of administrative bloat (which makes up a large and growing proportion of many university’s spending,) cuts to military spending, and the reversal of tax cuts for wealthy corporations and individuals should be done long before cuts to social welfare programs or cuts to ethnic and gender studies programs.
C) Student Democracy
SDS supports student democracy and autonomous control of universities by students and faculty. Universities are currently run by bloated administrations and decisions are made by boards of trustees and boards of regents. We believe that universities should be run by students and faculty, not wealthy investors and business owners.
SDS supports and often leads efforts against police murder, against anti-immigrant policies, for protection and expansion of cultural studies and non-STEM programs, and efforts to support black-enrollment. We also directly confront far-right politicians, speakers, and organizations whenever they decide to show their face.
A) End Police Terror!
SDS stands against the system of police terror, and the unending excuses and apologia for murder, abuse, and negligence. We support the movement to establish community control over the police by groups like the Chicago Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression as well as efforts to remove police as private security forces on campuses and in schools.
B) Equal Access to Education!
We believe education is a right, a view not shared by the majority of universities that increasingly see higher education as an industry. We oppose the “race-blind” college admissions processes favored by Trump and Kavanaugh, in a time of highly visible police harassment of students on their own campuses. Through racist standardized testing, exclusionary acceptance policies, and a general lack of support, people of color are uniformly discriminated against in higher education. By fighting for affirmative action and against these racist and exclusionary practices, we can take the first steps toward truly equal, fair, and free universities.In addition, fighting racism on campus must also include a struggle against administrations that allow students to speak and behave in racist ways, including slurs and harassment, that put students at risk of injury.
C) Oppose Anti-Immigrant Policies!
The struggle for education equality extends to immigrants and undocumented people. In addition to the above racist policies, SDS opposes the anti-immigrant practices of denying undocumented people access to universities, in-state tuition, scholarships, and fair employment. In the past, SDS has won in-state tuition in Florida, and we will continue to fight against institutional racism and anti-immigrant attacks. SDS also supports and has struggled for Legalization for All undocumented people. This means support for DACA and expansion of DACA. SDS also supports the abolishment of I.C.E.
D) Support Indigenous Sovereignty!
The US was built on the genocide of indigenous peoples and the colonization of their lands. The attacks on indigenous sovereignty now by corporations with police and government backing are today’s manifestation of this oppression/exploitation of American Indians. SDS stands behind and rallies with indigenous movements to defend their communities from further US-corporate incursion, and call on universities to divest from companies profiting from the exploitation of native peoples.
E) No Platform for the Far-Right!
The growing presence of White Supremacist, anti-LGBTQ+, and other anti-working class movements represents a grave threat. Their rhetoric and actions, from Ku Klux Klan rallies and marches to “alt-right” Nazi speaking spots and editorials, must be vigorously opposed. SDS joined to protest the KKK rally in Stone Mountain, Georgia and the UC Davis chapter drove Milo Yiannopoulos from their campus in January of 2017. The growing hate movement needs to be energetically confronted both directly in the streets, as well as being confronted ideologically. SDS joins with calls for the removal of Confederate statues. If historical value is measured by monopoly over historical narratives, there is little disputing that the statues represent great historical value. Their removal may then be considered the break-up of a monopoly— making way for new narratives to enter the public square and further opposing far-right and racist policies.
F) Culturally relevant and enriching education.
Fields like the Humanities, Cultural Studies, and other non-STEM courses are typically the first programs to be neglected, or face cuts from administration. This is due to these fields being less lucrative, and typically less useful for a universities’ investors. However, this does not make these courses less valuable to students. SDS fights for a “chop from the top” model that protects culturally relevant, and diverse departments and courses from cuts, and instead fights against administrative bloat as a solution to “necessary” cuts.
SDS organizes rallies, walkouts, sit-ins, and counter-recruitment campaigns to oppose US war and aggression.
A) No to U.S. Wars!
SDS recognizes that the state myth of U.S. interventions and military occupations “bringing democracy abroad” begins with the lie that we live under a democracy at home. The use of chemical weapons, missiles, and bombs by the U.S. military against the civilians of poor countries only benefits weapons manufacturers and corporations who massively profit from war. SDS has played a vital role in the US anti-war movement, whether it be the original SDS mobilizing hundreds of thousands against the Vietnam War -- or the modern incarnation of SDS mobilizing thousands nationally, and in some cases directly blockading ports to prevent the shipment of military hardware to Iraq. We continue stand firmly against war and the massive death toll of US invasions, the environmental devastation it causes, and against nuclear proliferation and saber rattling. We believe the billions wasted on mass destruction and massacres abroad, should be instead be used to fund education, people’s welfare, and social infrastructure.
B) No to U.S. Interventions!
Students must vigorously oppose all US interventions abroad (as U.S. interventionism is simply subsidized resource consumption), like those in Libya and Syria, as they are exclusively efforts by the rich to destabilize sovereign countries through coups, CIA trained and funded right-wing rebels, and massive propaganda campaigns in order to create favorable conditions for US investment. Similarly, policies such as no-fly zones and economic sanctions must be seen for what they are: efforts to escalate existing conflicts into all out war. Students must remain vigilant, condemn these actions, and organize against intervention. The war in Yemen represents the latest justification for our military budget— tax money that could otherwise be pooled towards the public good.
C) Yes to Refugees!
A vital part of the anti-war movement is providing safety and refuge to those fleeing instability and war especially as these crises usually result primarily from US intervention abroad. SDS remains committed to the struggle of refugees to receive full citizenship and secure, stable, and safe lives.
D) End the occupation of Palestine
One of the central manifestations of US imperialism in the Middle East is the active logistical, military, and financial support of the state of Israel. SDS supports efforts on all levels to boycott, divest, and sanction the state of Israel, and support Palestinian struggles for dignity and freedom.
SDS organizes in solidarity with unions on campuses and in our communities by organizing student walkouts and bringing students to join the picket lines.
A) Support Campus Workers and Organized Labor Everywhere!
Cuts to wages, healthcare, and other necessary rights for the working class people who keep campuses running only benefit the same wealthy administrators who hike up tuition and create massive student debt. SDS chapters alongside unions can demand cuts to bloated administrator salaries, higher wages for workers, shorter working hours, better contracts, an end to tuition hikes, and even free education. Students united with workers have the power to shut down campuses, workplaces, and entire cities when we are organized. In the long term, this allows us to form lasting ties that strengthen our movements and our ability to seize what’s ours from those in power. This point is include with the pointed exclusion of police unions, as these unions play the role of protecting racist police from penalty.
B) Oppose Anti-Union Laws, Policies, and Actions!
Unions are the strongest vehicle of economic struggle of the working class. Workers in so-called “Right to Work” states make an average of $6000 per year less than workers outside them, regardless of union membership. Attacks on unions are attacks on society as a whole, and henceforth these offensives by the rich must be opposed everywhere. Students must take a proactive approach in organizing with, joining, and strengthening unions, including militant rank and file union leadership, and to oppose anti-labor laws and policies.
V. Safety and Accessibility
SDS actively pressures administration to make campuses safe and accessible to all students, and fight back against broader attacks against women, LGBTQ+ people, and disabled people.
A) Safety and Health
Struggling for safe and healthy learning environments for all students is an essential step toward equal access to education. We demand equal access to LGBTQ+ friendly health services, such as access to counselling on campus and to gender inclusive bathrooms. We also struggle for universal access to reproductive health services, and against attacks on this right.
B) Accountability for Sexual Violence
Sexual harassment and assault are rarely taken seriously especially when conducted by athletes and fraternities. A truly safe and equal campus can only be achieved by holding perpetrators accountable and fighting for justice. SDS takes the stance of support for victims, and holding perpetrators accountable. SDS recognizes that Sexual Violence will continue to occur at colleges and universities unless the administration takes a firm stance against the perpetrators. Administration need to take sexual violence allegations seriously and make sure that the perpetrators cannot harm more people in the future. Administrations also have the responsibility to provide any necessary resources to survivors, including rape kits, counseling, help centers, and emergency hotlines.
C) Resources for Disabled Students
Many campuses lack adequate services, aid, and counseling for physically and mentally disabled students. Students should not be punished or socially isolated for requiring accommodations when they are expected to handle taxing course loads, while often working part or full time jobs in order to afford education. We demand that these issues be taken seriously and that suitable accommodations be put in place.
D) Individual Autonomy
SDS believes in policies that allow individuals control over private choices and bodily autonomy, including the right for someone to marry whoever they want. We infer, from his motions on and off the bench, that Justice Kavanaugh believes otherwise. If and when Roe v. Wade is brought to a vote, it will be indicative of right-wing paternalism that reinforces control by an elite through restrictive social policies, dumping the greatest restrictions on women, people of color, LGBTQ+, and the working class. Recognizing that this strategy is commonly paired with neglect for public services, SDS opposes Kavanaugh by supporting pro-mother, pro-child initiatives. These include framing motherhood as a labor issue: one that entails an average loss of 6 years’ work and, for 1 in 4 women, the vicissitudes of part-time jobs with no guaranteed benefits.
SDS considers viable environmental policy as necessarily anti-capitalist. The 2018 U.N. Report on Global Warming made clear the costs of productivism and limitless growth. For centuries, the global South has borne the brunt of European and American resource extraction— and it will continue to bear the brunt of extreme weather, famine, and drought (the flip side of those extracted resources). We believe that goals for sustainable development must be linked with the struggle against monopoly of the economy and of national policy-making by corporations whose accountability is based solely on profit.
B) Fight Environmental Injustice and Environmental Racism
We believe that the brute of the environmental impacts from the climate crisis are received by the working class and oppressed people of the world as can be seen with the recent events in Houston with Hurricane Harvey. The impacts were largely seen by the poor and working-class communities, which received little to no aid and were significantly worse because of the petrochemical industries right next to their homes. SDS is committed to fight for those communities that are overly burdened with the environmental impacts of the climate crisis and industry.
C) Support Divestment and Sustainable Programs
Most universities are invested in fossil fuels and other industries that are causing the climate crisis and environmental injustices and therefore support these injustices. SDS supports university divestment actions from fossil fuels and all industry that furthers the climate crisis or environmental injustices.
*Last Edited March 2019