YDSA: the new political organization of the northwest


Prior to coming to Northwestern, first-year communications student Dylan Zou was already reaching out to other students with progressive politics via Twitter. At the end of his first term on campus, Zou, who is a contributor to the Daily op-ed, was part of a group of students who started a new political organization – the Young Democratic Socialists of America.

Northwestern University’s Young Democratic Socialists of America formed as a space for leftists on campus to unite and share ideas. Although there has been a YDSA presence on campus for the past several years, this year’s YDSA chapter is the first to register as an official student organization.

“We wanted to create an ideological space, a space for discussion and maybe even a social space for leftists on campus,” said Zou, organizing member of YDSA.

After establishing itself as a fall term organization, YDSA began hosting its first events. In partnership with the Political Union and University Democrats, YDSA brought to campus David Oks and Henry Williams, the progressive teens who rose to popularity after leading former US Senator Mike Gravel (D-AK) on Twitter. YDSA also hosted an event called Ice Cream Socialism, where he shared Andy’s free and talked about leftist ideas.

In the coming weeks, many YDSA members will get involved in U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) 2020 presidential campaign, with some members heading to Iowa in the run-up to caucus.

“The YDSA does not officially support Bernie,” Zou said. “But we have a large contingent that is doing a lot for his campaign.”

Although the national chapter of the Democratic Socialist of America officially endorses the Sanders campaign, the YDSA at NU wants to remain open to all progressives, no matter who they support, Zou said.

Alex Harrison, a Medill freshman and organizing member of YDSA, said the organization represents students with a variety of political beliefs, ranging from progressive Democrats to anarchists.

“What unites us is the desire to change something fundamental and the willingness to take action to influence that change,” said Harrison.

For Harrison, YDSA is different from pre-existing organizations because it represents multiple ideological perspectives and has no party affiliation. Zou said YDSA represents the group of students who identify politically with the left of University Democrats.

Northwestern University College Democrats director of public relations Adam Downing said college Democrats were delighted to welcome YDSA into the political dialogue on campus.

“We are by no means a competitor organization and we see many opportunities for collaboration,” said the junior from Weinberg.

Going forward, Harrison hopes YDSA will grow as an organization, educate the student body about socialism, and partner with other activist groups on campus.

“We want to make it known that we exist and we want to be active here. Harrison said. “If you even have a passing interest, or if you want to learn, we want to talk, and we want to educate you about what socialism is and what it looks like. ”

This story has been updated to include that Dylan Zou is an opinion contributor for The Daily.

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