Image Courtesy of Freedom Socialist Party
By Tess Rempel
The Young Democratic Socialists of America has formed a new chapter at Catholic University. Since January 2021, president Michael Pikarski has been pushing for the organization to make its mark.
“We had our first semi-meeting on Zoom…[and] helped write the constitution together and it’s really grown from there. I didn’t even know it was gonna be just me and the club would fail,” Pikarski said.
Through the first Zoom meeting and word of mouth, five other CUA students joined the executive board, including Vice President Jack Kruger, Treasurer Keenan Green, Public Affairs Director Correy Crawford, Event Coordinator Ally Trust, and Secretary Sara Mosley. YDSA is advised by Dr. Gaurav Pathania.
“At Fall Fest, we really saw our first little success…we developed an executive board…who could get it started and move it forward to make sure that…those left-wing values and progressive values were heard on campus to make sure that every side of the argument has a voice,” Crawford said.
Despite gaining 33 members since its formation, CUA YDSA has received backlash from the student body.
“I saw a member of the student body grab one of our flyers, and crumple it up and spit on it and throw it in the trash…that kind of galvanized me… seeing the sort of hatred someone could have for something they don’t even know about,” Kruger said.
CUA YDSA also struggled to find support from faculty, taking until mid-July to find a staff member to be affiliated with the organization.
“I emailed the staff list in general and it had taken me literally months…not even a staff member that was completely committed, but just open to it being on campus,” Crawford said.
The Nest description of YDSA vows to uphold the “commitment to humanism which connects both Catholicism and socialism,” in an effort to diversify the political climate of the university.
“We focus a lot on the idea of Catholic Social teaching… the word socialism at this campus is so scary for people, and I think that drove a lot of people away… they were like, I don’t really want to be tied to that strong of a political message… but it all worked out,” Trust said.
YDSA also hopes to diversify the political climate on campus.
“YAF is hosting Ted Cruz, last semester they got Mike Pompeo… we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars being pumped into this right from the ecosystem on the campus, and there really is no answer to the left-wing side of it… I think it’s important that we show that the campus culture isn’t as conservative as people think, and can be more inclusive,” Kruger said.
The executive board coordinates to hold general body meetings, advocate for human rights-related issues, and organize events.
“It’s not always about pushing and making sure that our candidates are in office…we want to also do good for the people…one of our main projects this semester is petitioning for a fifteen dollar minimum wage for student workers on campus,” Crawford said.
As YDSA grows, the executive board makes one thing clear: membership is open to anyone, regardless of political affiliation.
“We are first and foremost just progressive, we have ideas, we have values, and that’s what we’re pushing…if you want an organization that has new, fresh ideas and wants to push the country forwards, and the campus forwards, then we’re the club for you. If anyone out there on campus has an issue that they care about that we’re not facing, please let us know, we’d love to help you,” Green said.