Young Democratic Socialists have MSU chapter

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Story by Alexandra Donlin
Video by Natasha Blakely
MI First Election

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Ice Cream Socialist event on March 27

Bernie Sanders, the candidate whose politics are most outside the mainstream, belongs to a group that has 43 chapters chapters nationwide.

This group is the Democratic Socialists. For the younger crowd, there’s a specific group just for them: The Young Democratic Socialists.

There are 24 chapters across the nation at high schools and colleges, including Michigan State University. The organization started in the early 2000s and was brought back to MSU’s campus this January.

Democratic socialism is a political ideology where political democracy is combined with social ownership of economic and sociological means of production.

The Young Democratic Socialists’ first event was a March 27 ice cream social, aptly named Ice Cream Socialist.

Joseph Herbst, MSU junior, said that meetings are primarily discussions and watching documentaries. However, the Ice Cream Socialist allowed people to find out more about the group, as well as socialize with group members.

Everyone in the group is also considered an equal – there aren’t specific officer positions, rather everyone is a coordinator of some sort.

“(I’m) officially the campus affairs environmental justice coordinator,” said Herbst, a jazz studies and music performance major. Some other positions include propaganda coordinator and communicator coordinator.

A challenge has been getting more people to join because of how socialism is generally perceived as a radical idea.

“It’s not the government taking money … you have control over your money,” said Casey Paskus, James Madison sophomore. “People actually have a voice.”

“I think a lot of people are intimidated … (but) it’s not intimidating at all,” Sarah Teppen, MSU junior, said.

Teppen, an arts and humanities and anthropology major, said she went into the group not really knowing anything. She then realized she self-identified the most with democratic socialism.

Similarly, Paskus joined for that reason, too, but also because she wanted to help others. “I wanted to join a group that would make a difference,” Paskus said.

The goal of the group, as described by Paskus, is actually to help and partner with a lot of other groups on campus.

“(We’re) a group of awesome people looking for more awesome people,” Paskus said.

According to Teppen, the next four meetings will include more information and discussions about politics and watching documentaries, one being “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners.”

Meetings are every Sunday from 7-8:30 p.m. in room C304 Snyder Hall.

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