The Student Commission of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) recently met and made plans to build the movement on campuses around the U.S.
With more students on more campuses, in more states, in every region of the U.S., members of the commission made plans to organize and bring social change to both colleges and society. Student leaders shared lessons on building active student groups, conducting campaigns with clear demands and winning victories on campus. Together they summed up the successes of the big anti-NATO protest in Chicago, the Carlos Montes victory in Los Angeles and the march on the RNC in Tampa, where even a threatening hurricane could not hold them back.
Students from more than a dozen campuses considered how to share in the initiatives and campaigns of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The Student Commission also discussed the importance of the African-American and Chicano national movements for social change. Florida students relayed the lessons learned from taking militant actions to demand justice for Trayvon Martin and they shared a new campaign to end “the schools to prison pipeline.”
FRSO is also attracting campus leaders and founding new groups in the student and youth immigrant rights movement nationally. Students came to the meeting from the Midwest and Florida, as well as the Rocky Mountains, the South and Southwest.
Stephanie Taylor, chair of the Student Commission said, “Even after the FBI raids and in the midst of ongoing heavy political repression, the FRSO Student Commission continues to grow because we are consistent revolutionaries. Both positive and forthright, we organize to end U.S. wars, fight racism and stop government cutbacks. Students with FRSO are making gains with campus campaigns to stop rape, end discrimination against queer people and to support labor unions and workers. In this period of war, austerity, and oppression, many serious activists who oppose imperialism and desire socialism are joining the FRSO.”
Sol Marquez, a student organizer with Dream Defenders in Florida said, “We debated approaches to the immigrant rights struggle. By organizing for the Dream Act, immigrant students and youth won a concession from President Obama - Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It is a small victory and something to build on, but we did not come here alone, so we must demand ‘Legalization now!’ for our parents, and for everyone.”
Marquez continued, “‘Comprehensive immigration reform’ is a tricky phrase, it is politician talk. With FRSO, we are organizing for economic equality and political power. Our group demands self-determination for Chicanos and African-Americans and full equality for others. We do not think it is easy, but revolution makes sense. 2013 is going to be a year for struggle, a good year for revolutionaries. We are embarking on a path to unite students, working class and oppressed people to liberate ourselves from this oppressive and exploitative system.”
Mike Raspanti of Milwaukee SDS said, “The meeting was great. I had no idea. Every person in the room raised their hand when asked if they helped organize emergency actions in solidarity with Palestine this past November. We are an organization of leaders and doers, not just talkers.”
A leader of the Revolutionary Student Union in Utah said, “Since joining the FRSO, our ability to mobilize people for protests is improving steadily. When the United National Antiwar Coalition called a day of protest against the U.S. war in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, we were happily surprised to hear Salt Lake City’s was the largest in the country.”
Students are gearing up for action this spring. First is the one-year anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s brutal murder on Feb. 26, 2012. Dream Defenders formed out of this struggle and led actions to demand police accountability. In solidarity, SDS is calling on students across the country to demand “Justice for Trayvon Martin!”
Another important date is the March 14 Education Rights Day of Action. Small groups of students continue to organize on their campus against tuition increases, education cutbacks and increasing student debt. SDS and others continue to demand an end to bloated administration positions and overpaid salaries for bosses, demanding, “Chop from the top!” and “Education is a right!”
SDS is also calling for April 11 anti-war events, with banner drops, teach-ins and protests to end the U.S. war in Afghanistan, stop U.S. covert operations and stop war moves against Syria and Iran, and to ban U.S. drone attacks.
The meeting provided the opportunity for members of the FRSO Student Commission to clarify their goals both nationally and on their own campuses. The student leaders summed up victories of 2012 and learned from mistakes, to plan an exciting year of struggle.