Multifaceted Support for YDSA

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A package of proposals that provides a wide breadth of support for YDSA chapters

Affected Items & Short Rationale

Together, the following three proposals will provide a wide breadth of support for YDSA to pick and choose from, including local support from nearby DSA chapters, direct financial support in the form of a stipend, equitable staffing support from the national organization.

  • C/B Amendment 22: YDSA Governance Changes

    • This proposal begins the process of bridging the divide between YDSA and DSA. A Youth Section committee is established to administer and coordinate the affiliations between DSA and YDSA chapters and begin efforts such as a mutual mentorship program to facilitate more local support for YDSA.

  • Resolution 12: YDSA Stipends

    • The proposal aims to work around the financial challenges that high school and college YDSA chapters face by having them partner with a DSA chapter to hold their funds. Each YDSA chapter would be given $500 per year through a designated DSA local, which can be used to defray costs for a wide variety of things, from convention  to pressure campaigns, among numerous others.

  • Resolution 44: YDSA Staff Review

    • This proposal was inspired from the feedback received from YDSA membership about the lack of staffing support being provided to them. This proposal was workshopped between labor representatives and YDSA members to responsibly resolve a critical and urgent need for staffing support in YDSA.

Why Is Build endorsing the “Multifaceted Support for YDSA” package of proposals?

  • YDSA represents organizers of the most in-debt generation in all of human history.

    • Today, the total amount of student debt in the United States amounts to slightly more than $1.65 trillion, which equals approximately 11% of the total amount of money in circulation in the United States (M2 Money Supply). This the most debt any demographic of society has ever held.

    • While YDSA members are enthusiastic and capable of organizing against such a crisis, no one, however talented or strategic, can win this fight alone. As DSA members who wish to build a better world, we should support our young comrades as they take on the student debt crisis. 

  • YDSA and DSA are both at their best when working together.

    • There is a trend among YDSA that explains which chapters succeed and which falter. YDSA chapters who have local support from their nearest DSA chapter tend to see long-term sustained growth, while YDSA chapters that do not receive support from their DSA chapter tend to falter and die off. In turn, DSA benefits from a strong YDSA and a healthy generation of organizers growing up within DSA’s structure. All these proposals help connect YDSA and DSA both locally and nationally, as well as directly invest resources into YDSA so that it can be at its best.

  • These proposals provide broad multifaceted support to meet a YDSA chapter’s unique local material conditions.

    • Unique YDSA chapters face unique local material conditions. Some need funds but have clear strategic visions, some need support from local chapters or staff, but have no need for funds. With these bylaw changes, chapters can choose the support they need, and pass on the support they don’t.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Question: What exactly does the YDSA Governance change CB proposal do?

Answer: These changes create an ombudsperson council for YDSA to act as a neutral arbitrator during disagreements, using a fair process. By creating a method for conflict de escalation and resolution, it takes a first step toward a happier and more functional YDSA.

These bylaw changes also bridge the divide between the leadership of YDSA and DSA. By creating a space to openly communicate on a monthly basis, these bylaws allow YDSA and DSA to better understand each others issues and will lead to improved coordination between them. 

The bylaw changes would additionally:

  • Set standards for YDSA constitutions, including transparency protections and recall of leadership

  • Create a plan for the YDSA's chapters to stay connected to DSA in the event they dissolve or their charter is revoked.

  • Allow YDSA to function as a student section instead of a youth section if they so choose. 

Question: Given unique finance rules at each educational institution, is a blanket YDSA Stipend solution really the best?

Answer: The stipend is sent to and administered by a local DSA chapter on behalf of the YDSA chapter.  As the money never technically is sent to the YDSA chapter, issues around funding rules should be avoided.

Question: The process for YDSA chapters to collect a stipend seems overly bureaucratic. Are you sure this is the best way to provide support to YDSA?

Answer: The YDSA Stipend proposal is simpler than most other methods available. To receive  university funding, YDSA chapters often need to ask for it from their student government or the university administration (who are frequently not fans of activists). High school YDSA members must rely directly on fundraising. This YDSA stipend proposal only asks that a YDSA chapter maintains an affiliation with a DSA chapter that has a bank account. 

Question: Have you thought about alternative uses for that money involved in the YDSA Stipend proposal, such as an increase in staff support instead?

Answer: Proposals such as block grants and other structures to provide direct financial support have been considered but have their own problems and pitfalls. This stipend proposal best provides financial infrastructure and support that will empower YDSA members to organize on campus. However, this proposal is intended to be passed alongside YDSA Staff Review, which provides an increase in staff support. The stipend proposal does not undermine the organization’s ability to hire more staff for YDSA, if it were so recommended by the staff review to provide more equitable staffing coverage for the Youth Section. Any comparison between YDSA direct funding support and YDSA staffing support is the result of a misunderstanding. The author of these proposals supports the increase of both in a responsible manner.

Question: Can we afford the YDSA Stipend proposal?

Answer: This proposal will cost the national organization about $50,000 per year as there are currently about 100 YDSA chapters chartered. Given that national revenue was over $3 million last year, $50,000 to encourage young organizers is a small price. 

Question: Why not specifically mandate the hiring of YDSA staff members instead of conducting a YDSA staff review?

Answer: As tempting as it is to simply write a resolution that empowers the authors of a resolution to hire and negotiate wages with staff members, hiring is reserved to the National Director and NPC (as prescribed by the DSA Constitution), and staffing changes may be subject to bargaining with the DSA staff union. To avoid the possibility of a constitutional violation or the possibility of mandating the national organization to commit an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP), the YDSA Staff Review proposal was written as a more responsible solution that would provide just as equitable staffing coverage for YDSA chapters as a straight hiring mandate.

Question: In the compendium, the costing analysis for the YDSA Staff Review proposal claims that the proposal is already being done by staff but would be more expensive due to the deadlines. If that’s the only change from resolution, is the cost to the organization really worth it?

Answer: Currently, YDSA staff consists of a single staff member who also works as a field organizer for DSA. The need for additional support is immense, and the deadlines are in place to ensure that it is provided.

In addition, to the time constraints, the resolution also guarantees YDSA members a voice in the hiring process, something that they currently do not have.