Students pay attention during a Young Democratic Socialists of America chapel (photo courtesy of Ben Mercer)
The ACU Young Democratic Socialist America Charter is an official student organization beginning this semester.
YDSA is the yof the Democratic Socialists of America, the largest socialist organization in the United States. YDSA is aimed at young academics and Generation Z who share the same beliefs as democratic socialists.
Like most student organizations on campus, YDSA had to go through a process in order to become an official student organization recognized by the university.
“We want our students to be able, with courtesy and care, to process perspectives politically,” Dr Ryan Richardsonsaid the vice president of student life.
Each new student organization must complete an application on the ACU website and then the approval process begins. The emergency for most student organizations is funding, which is a massive component of being a recognized organization and setting aside university resources like rooms and equipment.
“They came to us several months ago and submitted an application,” Richardson said. “Therein lies the problem: we have had several student organizations submit nominations that are all based on political parties or interests and have had to decide as an institution whether we are able to gain full recognition these interests.
The ACU asked organizations like the ACU Democrats and the ACU Young Republicans if YDSA’s beliefs aligned with these already established political organizations on campus.
“The interesting thing about YDSA since they are representatives of a political party that sets them apart holistically,” Richardson said.
While there is a similarity between ACU Democrats and YDSA, YDSA aims to have more impact on campus as well as create a more discussion-based club rather than elected leaders speaking to the group, a said Ben Mercer, president of YDSA and sophomore social work major from Harker Heights.
“It’s an open conversation,” Mercer said. “We don’t use debate at all, we don’t think it’s really useful. We are here to change mindsets and provide education. Right now we are trying to build our club and have a foundation.
Mercer’s plan for the club is to bring open conversations about issues on campus and in America. There are plans for speakers that include faculty and members of the institution, as well as members of the community.
“People seem to really enjoy our chapels,” Mercer said. “It’s not like people talk to you all the time. Everyone is involved and has the opportunity to express themselves. The chapel is very discussion-based.
Students are encouraged to follow YDSA’s Instagram for club updates at @acuydsa.