DSA Complements Activism with Education


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NYU’s Democratic Socialists of America Logo

Jillian Harrington, Contributing Writer

Though only in its second semester, NYU’s chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America has big ideas and is prepared to educate and mobilize for its cause.

This past January, Jeremy Cohan, a student at NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, decided to expand democratic socialism at NYU. Cohan had connected with socialist ideologies for a while, but it was not until the aftermath of the 2016 election that he joined DSA and founded a NYU chapter with like-minded students.

“This is both a moment of political disaster and political opportunity,” Cohan said. “It’s a time of terror, but also opportunity for people to articulate a different vision of politics, and we believe that a better vision would be democratic socialism.”

NYU DSA’s mission is to organize, educate and encourage NYU students to engage in current political conversation and activism. The group recognizes there was a lot of excitement surrounding the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign, and club members aim to keep that energy alive.

NYU DSA plans events, study groups and develops other forms of outreach. The group also focuses on educating members, reading essays and having round table discussions of ideas. Members of NYU DSA have marched, walked picket lines and brought in professors, politicians and union organizers. The club is committed to exploring, learning and mobilizing.

This upcoming semester, NYU DSA will continue alternating organization-based meetings with education. Specifically, they are interested in planning an informational event about health care, increasing solidarity with striking workers downtown and participating in more activist work. Next Wednesday, DSA member Jabari Brisport — who is running to represent Brooklyn’s 35th District in city council — will speak to the group about his political beliefs and experiences while working on Bernie Sanders’ campaign and in the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We at NYU are in a very unique place to do these things in that we live right in the heart of New York City,” Daniel Cheng, a GSAS student and a member of the NYU DSA leadership team, said. “We can go beyond just learning and beyond doing things in just a student environment — it’s education plus implementing the education in the real world.”

NYU DSA attracts many passionate students with varied interests and and reaches various academic years/levels from freshman to doctoral candidates. Meetings are fluid, as members pose and answer questions freely. Cohan remarked that many members may have long felt crazy for their unique politics, but at these meetings, students are among ideological equals.

Diego Araya, a first-year GSAS student, was impressed by the enthusiasm he witnessed at the first meeting he attended.

“I feel like there’s a lot of disenchantment among the youth, especially at universities right now, and I think this a really good way for them to get organized, to be active in a community and in the general political conversation,” Araya said.

Cohan said students have capacities and interests that can be organized for this kind of work.

“Students have time and space to study and think about ideas, and we think it’s really important that people study and analyze the system,”
NYU DSA meets every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the King Juan Carlos Center room 404W. For more information, visit their Facebook, Twitter or contact them at [email protected].

Email Jil00lian Harrington at [email protected]