Young Democratic Socialists of America Chapter begins at Union

Daniel Wilcox, News Editor

A chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America organization is currently in the process of becoming an organization at Union College, with the group wanting to place a particular emphasis on increasing the political awareness of Union students. Although neither the Young Democratic Socialists of America, nor it’s parent organization the Democratic Socialists of America release the statistics of their membership numbers, it has been estimated through the circulation of the group’s financial report that the current membership has grown from around 6,000 pre-2016 to over 49,000. The popularity of the DSA has definitely risen since the election of Republican President Donald Trump. 

Taken from the national organization’s website, the Democratic Socialists of America “believe that working people should run both the economy and society democratically to meet human needs, not to make profits for a few”. Although socialism is not the mainstream in US politics, it has become increasingly popular with the younger generation, with a 2019 poll from Gallup finding that around 49% of young people belong to the Millennial or Gen Z grouping view socialism as a positive thing, compared to 32% of Baby Boomers. 

Nathalie Gullo ’21 is playing an active role in ensuring that the YDSA becomes established at Union. She explained that the inspiration for the organization came from “RPI’s Chapter coming to Union and asking if we wanted to found one here.” A group of professors, along with students in the Union College Activist Network (UCAN) began the discussion of forming a new organization on-campus. Gullo went on to explain that she was currently looking through the process of making the YDSA an official Union-affiliated group, finding out what is required of a YDSA Chapter in order to be associated with the National organization.

Another student working towards the founding, Andrew James ’21, spoke about the interest he had seen when tabling in the fall at the Club Expo, mentioning that he had students come up to him who expressed an excitement in there being a YDSA at Union. James spoke about how he believes that the future of the organization will “depend on the next election,” with him making note of the big task ahead of the DSA, even with a Sanders or Warren win at the 2020 Presidential contest. Gullo touched upon the negative connotations attached to the word socialism, explaining that part of the YDSA’s task is to discuss what socialism in the United States would look like, with it not being necessary to label oneself as a Socialist. James, who describes the YDSA as a “Political Activist Group”, elaborated by mentioning that the organization is a “coalition” of viewpoints.

Aside from the UCAN organization, Union does not have an official Democratic or Republican organization, meaning that there is little opportunity for the campus community to express and discuss the views that the student and faculty hold. Gullo and James both insist that a part of the role of the YDSA Union Chapter would be to help foster an environment of discussion and debate across the campus.