On September 30, the University of Utah Chapter of Students for a Democratic Society will be putting on a fundraiser at Diabolical Records. They are hoping to raise enough money to send 10 of their chapter’s members to the SDS Annual Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The convention will be held on October 9 and 8.The fundraiser has an impressive lineup with locals All Systems Fail, Bancho, Cady Heron, Sympathy Pain, Hylian and touring act neutral shirt providing the entertainment. Also included during the event will be art, tasty treats, and a raffle. To find out more, I sat down with University of Utah’s SDS President Theresa and member Doug to find out what can be expected from this event and from the University of Utah’s SDS chapter.
NixBeat: What is the agenda for the SDS National Conference in October?
Doug and Theresa: The conference consists of plenaries and workshops for both Saturday and Sunday; workshops have a variety of topics, while plenaries set out broad outlines for the coming year for national SDS. For example, our current national campaign, Education for All!, is a broad outline of goals such as support for affirmative action, undocumented access to education, and tuition decreases, and was passed at last year’s conference.
NixBeat: How did you attract bands like All Systems Fail to play the benefit show?
Doug: To a large extent it was just a natural outgrowth of the really great DIY ethic held up by the bands who are playing. We were able to get in contact with people various ways, through personal connections and the local music scene generally, but the folks who agreed to play didn’t really need any prodding or persuasion. They’re just great people generously donating their time as a great testimony to Salt Lake’s local music scene.
NixBeat: The San Diego Lo-Fi pop group neutral shirt is also on the bill, what’s the story there?
Doug: A friend of mine was a very hard working person organizing a lot of DIY shows in Salt Lake, but they moved off to Sweden. So neutral shirt was looking to put on a show in Salt Lake on the 30th for a while and they got a hold of my friend, who had actually helped us with some advice organizing our show, who forwarded them to us and we threw them on.
NixBeat: What other activities will the SDS fundraiser include?
Theresa: We’ll hold a raffle and have some speeches from SDS members.
NixBeat: Does this show include the participation of other organizations?
Doug: We’re hoping to see some old friends from other groups (in addition to new friends, of course) but, while we work with various groups on campus and throughout our communities. No other activist groups are formally involved in the fundraiser itself.
NixBeat: How much money does SDS need to raise to get its members to the conference?
Theresa: We are hoping to raise about 300 dollars.
NixBeat: Why is SDS having their fundraiser at Diabolical Records?
Doug: Diabolical and its owners, Adam and Alana, are great resources in local music and host shows really often, generally for free. They were definitely the most obvious option among (sort of) established venues in Salt Lake, and they were kind enough to tell us yes when we asked.
NixBeat: Does the local SDS chapter coordinate with other national branches of the organization?
Theresa: Absolutely; national work amongst members from various chapters has been crucial for local work and building the national student movement. We give each other advice, help build new SDS chapters, and plan national events like the national convention through regular conference calls and communication on social media.
NixBeat: SDS stands in solidarity with 17 year-old Abdi Mohamed who was shot by an officer of the SLCPD. What actions is SDS taking to support Mohamed and stand in opposition to police brutality?
Theresa: Many SDS members consistently attend solidarity events for Abdi organized by Utah Against Police Brutality.
NixBeat: What other campaigns is SDS involved in?
Doug and Theresa: SDS’s main focus is the Education for All! campaign. We demand access to state-funded scholarships for undocumented students in Utah, which is currently illegal under state Senate Bill 81. We’re trying to build momentum and support around town and on campus for this goal through rallies, call-ins, and education (flyering, panels, etc) in order to amend—and hopefully, eventually repeal—this bill. Beyond this, we have also worked behind the slogan Dump Trump! and we organized a protest of Trump when he was in town. We try to stay abreast of struggles going on in our communities—usually not in as much of a formal group role, but to lend our support as individuals to organizing around town.
NixBeat: Has the recent controversial rhetoric used by GOP presidential candidate Donald J. Trump inspired curiosity toward SDS from the wider student population on campus?
Doug: We had a big presence protesting him when he was in town in March which got our name out to some people, and a lot of people can get behind “Dump Trump.” So it’s a slogan we have on some of our pamphlets and such. I would describe it as Donald being a man that people can easily agree to oppose, so we’ve used that a little bit.
NixBeat: What’s next for SDS?
Doug: We’ll continue to focus on our demand for state-funded scholarships for undocumented people, and the amendment of SB81; we’ll post about future events to that end on our Facebook page and spread the word on campus. We’ll continue working on this concrete, material goal and on building the student movement, and anyone interested in helping us is welcome to join. Attendance at future events, meetings and our fundraiser this Friday will be hugely appreciated and go a long way towards progressive change in Utah.
The requested donation for attending the fundraiser at Diabolical Records is $5. According to their event page, all donations will go to the planning of and travel to the National Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. For more information on the University of Utah’s SDS chapter, check out their Facbook page: https://www.facebook.com/UofUSDS/?fref=nf