UTSA YDSA opens up about changing the status quo and making a difference

Amanda Sellers, Staff Writer

“The philosophers of the world have only interpreted the world, but the point is to change it,” Nick Solis, Co-Chair of the UTSA chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA), quoted Karl Marx. The UTSA YDSA is present and active again on campus after weathering COVID-19, using education and spreading social awareness to better prepare students for the evolving political scene throughout the nation. 

Hakim Harris, one of the organization’s grievance officers, said that their goals were not fully realized yet, but that education is the key to making a difference in any community.

“We really do want to serve as a space for leftists and progressives to develop their ideas and build relationships with each other. We also want to inform UTSA students on how to organize and fight for their rights, a better community and a better world,” Harris said.

Solis further explained that the organization works for the community both on and off-campus.

 “We also have started branching out into mutual aid work; helping out students and people in the community with the resources that they need,” Solis said. 

Recently, they were successful in petitioning the university for more parking for students.

“We did a petition event to get UTSA to make more parking spaces for commuters. After we had sent in the petition, they opened up an entire parking lot that hadn’t been used. So we were pretty proud of that,” Solis said. 

Cruz Fox, who serves as the organization’s second grievance officer, explained that they want to branch out into other sections of community work. Fox is the lead liaison between the Mutual Aid Committee and the YDSA here on campus and explained how the YDSA has been able to make a change in the San Antonio community. 

“With the Mutual Aid Committee, we work with the San Antonio DSA on distributions and code-busting events. They pick up trash to help with encampments for houseless people and provide all kinds of resources [for them]. We want to bring that over here around the UTSA community to assess the needs of UTSA students and also people around the area,” Fox said.

According to the San Antonio DSA website, code busters “are a team of organizers who can help people in the community avoid citations and fines from Code Compliance.”

Solis also described how the pandemic has negatively affected the organization, but that engagement has grown dramatically this spring semester. 

“So our [chapter] officially started in 2017, but I think, like a lot of student organizations, the pandemic hit us pretty hard. We started out pretty low [with membership] coming back from the pandemic, but it’s really started popping off in the past few months. We’re really excited about that. For example, we had a political education event recently and I thought we would have maybe like four or five people there. It was an introduction to socialist ideas. And I remember walking into the space that we had it in and I thought, ‘Am I in a class? Do I have the wrong room?’ ” Solis said.

Ultimately, the YDSA’s aim is to educate its members and encourage discussion about changing the defective status quo to better serve the people who really need the support. 

“To be socialist is to come from a radical tradition of empowering the working class; working to facilitate unions and increase wages. The 40-hour workweek was not always around, right? It’s been fought for,” Fox said.

Both Fox and Harris agree that the best way to go about making this change is to educate and get involved.

“We’re working on a Mayday celebration event right now on May 1st at the Downtown UTSA campus. We’re going to have a lot of unions participate, as well as have some local leaders go out and speak. We’ve confirmed Terry Castillo, she’s a San Antonio councilwoman. And we’re really excited because we’re working with a few other UTSA organizations, the San Antonio DSA and some other union organizations throughout the city to put this together. It’s going to be the first big event that we’ve hosted this year so we’re really excited about that,” Solis said.

“The goal of our organization, what we want to do is we want to grab people wherever they’re coming from, if they want a better world, if they want workers to have better working conditions and fair wages, if they want eventually to see a world where the choice isn’t just work or die, that we’re an organization where we can come together and achieve,” Solis said.

The UTSA chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America meets every Thursday at 5 p.m. in the McKinney Humanities building at 2.02.04. They table throughout the week and also have a GroupMe, an Instagram as well as a Discord server