Embracing the fringe: Sewanee Democratic Socialists

by Kathryn Willgus

The Sewanee Democratic Socialists (SDS) is a new club on campus hoping to “fill a void in political discourse,“ says founder Brandon Kemp (C’16). The club seeks to help students see past the staunch two-party system and open their minds to different political dialogues by discussing social inequalities such as classism, sexism, and homophobia, empower and encourage students in education and activism.

When asked why SDS is important for Sewanee’s campus, Kemp referred the Democratic Socialists of America founder Michael Harrington and his idea of “the Other America.” Sewanee is situated in an area where unemployment and lack of access to basic societal needs, such as health insurance and education, are serious issues. Even among the student body, Kemp says, “the effects of massive student debts, financial woes at home,” are serious issues that affect the demographic and are cause for real change. SDS believes that a radical organization is what is necessary to challenge governmental and economic systems that are not geared properly toward helping its people.

The organization’s focus for now will be raising awareness. Campus advertisements, educational discussion groups on relevant topics, and collaborating with like-minded campus clubs are just a few of their goals. The SDS will be teaming up with the Hispanic Organization for Latino Awareness (HOLA) to plan a “Know Your Rights” campaign—a program geared toward local immigrant communities. There’s been talk of a speaker coming in, in order to educate the student body on the caution inducing “S-word,” film screenings, and a newsletter are in the works. Above all, Kemp and SDS hope to be “Shaking things up here on the Domain,” by raising awareness and educating students on their cause.

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