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Freedom Road Student Commission builds campus struggle, plans to expand in 2016

By Tom Burke

The Student Commission of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) met recently to discuss building the student movement into a force for change. The students made plans to organize with their friends in Students for a Democratic Society and other student groups, while recruiting more young revolutionaries to the FRSO.

Similar to the 1960s, students are becoming active and looking for new ideas. More and more young people are interested in socialism and revolution. What this means for the FRSO Student Commission is that growth continues with more campus organizers, in more states.

The air was electric on Friday evening as students arrived, with many embracing, and meeting and greeting each other for the first time. This was the first national FRSO meeting for many and they came well prepared with reports on their campus, community and national organizing. Students asked each other questions of how to improve their activism and debated pressing questions. The meeting was serious and energizing.

Chrisley Carpio, who led the meeting said, “FRSO students learn that revolution requires a vanguard party that can unite and lead the two great forces for change in this society, the working class and the oppressed nations and nationalities. We also discuss how revolutionary students can do campus organizing and have a place in the struggle.”

This past year, many students organized protests against racist police murders and in solidarity with the Baltimore uprising in 2015. In autumn at the University of Missouri, African American student protests against campus racism led the Mizzou football team to threaten a strike. The university president soon resigned and changes were made as a result of student struggle. This inspired a wave of solidarity rallies across the country with students opposing racist discrimination on their own campuses. In opposition to a Supreme Court case out of Texas attacking affirmative action, Students for a Democratic Society began organizing for affirmative action and calling for increased recruitment and retention of African American students and faculty.

Students are fighting for education rights. There are calls to relieve or cancel student debt, to stop education cutbacks and to lower bloated administrator salaries. A growing number of people are calling for free tuition so working-class youth can attend college. With the Education for All campaign, SDS won equal access to college for undocumented students in Florida who were being forced to pay out-of-state tuition rates. SDS may take up the Education for All campaign again with new demands for equality and economic justice. Students are also calling to cut expensive and unnecessary U.S. military contracts and research on their campus. “Fund education, not U.S. military occupation!”

In some states, like Wisconsin, students organize in solidarity with unions and workers’ struggles. In states with Republican governors, from Michigan to Florida, students hosted Refugees are Welcome Here! rallies. Across the country, students opposed U.S. wars and occupations built solidarity with Palestinian American leader Rasmea Odeh. There were also protests to end sexual harassment and rape of women on campus.

In addition to their local campaigns and issues, the FRSO students left the meeting united in efforts to Dump Trump as a way of participating in the election process. There is now a wave of Trump piñata bashes on college campuses across the country. When Trump or Republican debates come to town with their message of fear, hatred and war, hundreds of students and young people are now turning out to oppose them.

After the meeting, Carpio said, “As the youth and students of Palestine, Colombia and the Philippines rebel, many students in the U.S. are thinking about socialism. The FRSO Student Commission deepened our commitment to build the student movement and to recruit new members all over the U.S., whether in small town high schools, big universities, or community colleges in cities and border towns. Despite political repression, we are planning to grow.”

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