Young Democratic Socialist group hopes to discuss and educate on new ideas
Sariah Metcalfe, a Residential College in the Arts and Humanities sophomore, said she grew up watching her mother help run a program in the local juvenile detention center called PeaceJam, which taught students about peace and peace building, something Metcalfe described as a “do-good-for-the-world organization.”
It comes as no surprise Metcalfe now plays an integral role in the rebirth of a student organization she said fell into the shadows in the early 2000s at MSU.
She, alongside a few other students, are recreating the Young Democratic Socialists, or YDS, at MSU.
“When I think about what I want YDS to be, I think about different ideologies,” Metcalfe said. “I want a really, really big membership full of people who identify as different things. I want our discussions to include different opinions. I don’t want to be too hegemonic.”
Marketing senior Evan Coleman said he joined the group because he was inspired by his friends, like Metcalfe, who were really getting into the education aspect of YDS.
“I think there’s a lot of miseducation in the grand educational system about socialism, about history, about capitalism,” Coleman said. “There’s a miseducation and a misinformation of the general public, so I think this gives me the opportunity to be around people who are constantly critically analyzing those things.”
The group recently had its first event since its recreation, the “Ice Cream Socialist.” It touted socialist readings, ice cream and served as a general informational meeting for potential members.
At the meeting, a few members of the group explained the general structure of their group is one of equality. Because of university requirements, on paperwork the group has a secretary and a treasurer, but in practice it does not use those titles. Members will work in conjunction together.
“We’re trying to be as egalitarian as possible,” Metcalfe said. “It just aligns with our mission. We don’t need hierarchy.”
Faculty advisor of YDS and associate professor Austin Jackson also dropped in to the meeting to describe the group’s history. Jackson was around when YDS was originally created and said he is very excited to see the group reborn, especially, he said, because of today’s current political climate.
“There are two things I’d like to see this group do — one, I would like them to reclaim the radical American intellectual tradition,” Jackson said. “Two, I would like them to practice creating a radical alternative to capitalism.”
Though the group has chosen to support Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as its presidential candidate, as he is a self-described democratic socialist, members make it clear they are not just another Students For Sanders group. Members of YDS do not want to associate themselves with any political face or campaign, but instead want to be a source for discussion and education around campus on social justice issues.
“Prominent democratic socialists are going to come and go, and they’re going to get popular just because of the way our political sphere in the U.S. is so polarized right now, I don’t think that’s really sustainable,” Metcalfe said. “Students for Sanders is a really great group, but in my mind, YDS is different. Whereas some groups will have a political martyr or a champion, and they will come and go. YDS will still continue going. We are more focused on educating our campus and city.”