A group of passionate LMU students have begun the process of adding a chapter of Young Democratic Socialists of America to the campus scene. Three of the founding members sat down to discuss this process with me: junior psychology and philosophy double major Victor Hernandez, junior English major Jonathan Procopio and senior women's and gender studies major Alexis Harris.
Jordan Boaz (J.B.): How did this get started? And why did you start it?
Victor Hernandez (V.H.): Me and Johnny were a part of protest groups over the summer, and me and him talked about starting something like this. And we felt like the Young Americans for Freedom ... that existed on campus had a pretty strong presence, but there was no representation or place for the other side to organize and discuss in the same fashion. So I thought it was necessary to make something like this, even though these aren’t the ideal circumstances for forming something. We saw it as necessary.
J.B.: What kind of impact are you hoping to have?
V.H.: We’re hoping to both discuss and also implement democratic socialist ideals and policies through assisting candidates that are running right now … also help pass local initiatives such as Proposition 15. We do intend also on seeing what people who come to our meetings are interested in doing.
Jonathan Procopio (J.P.): There’s an activism aspect to our club and there’s also a safe-place aspect to the club.
J.B.: Are you focusing more on California at large, or more on the LMU community?
J.P.: Both, both absolutely. We plan to both have plans of action for certain things that are going on at LMU — we wish we could have gotten involved with the Sodexo strike but that passed — but keep in mind, those are the types of things that our club would like to get involved in on campus ... there's a proposition that we'd like to advocate for, and that's an example of work we would do outside of school.
V.H.: We realize that it’s all interconnected. So regardless of what level [of work] we’re interested in, it’s all interconnected. We will be making an impact on the greater implementation of democratic socialism … We’re definitely interested in divesting, and just further education and rights for our adjunct faculty and our part-time faculty... We hope that the university — and not just this university, universities across this nation — treat these faculty like the dignified intellectuals that they are.
J.P.: We discussed diversity among department heads and professors who are full-time; there’s a huge lack of diversity when you really take a look at it.
J.B.: What kinds of social justices issues is the club interested in specifically?
Alexis Harris (A.H.): I’m also on the senate for LMU and we had just recently written an initiative—this is something that I think is pretty relevant for the club—we wrote an initiative to distribute to the administration and faculty to consider making more online free resources for books, and to consider that especially because of the coronavirus people are in a really tough time financially. So, trying to ensure equity among the campus, especially now, with access to materials,
J.P.: Our club supports Black Lives Matter. I know that that is a huge issue.
J.B.: Has starting the club been difficult?
J.P. Honestly, it's been difficult, since we kind of have to rely on [professors] to talk to students more than being able to individually interact with them … I think eventually it’ll be a little bit easier.
J.B. Any last thoughts?
J.P.: I just want to emphasize that the club is very people-driven. We are against centralization of power and we care about individual people’s opinions and rights.
For students interested in becoming involved with YDSA, their next meeting is on Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 6:30 p.m. PST. An interest form and access to the meeting can be found here. Additionally, they can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.