Chapel Hill SDS
Chapel Hill SDS is affiliated to New Students for a Democratic Society.
Chapel Hill SDS April 24, 2014 ·
Chapel Hill SDS April 24, 2014 ·
Press conference with SDS
Chapel Hill, NC - Campus and city workers, union organizers and students held a press conference at the university here, Sept. 13 2007, to denounce University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill administration’s censorship of an article on collective bargaining. The North Carolina Public Sector Workers Union, UE Local 150, organized the press conference to demand the article be published.
Manzoor Cheema, a research technician at UNC and UE 150 member, said, “We need to put the pressure on Chancellor Moeser and the UNC Board of Governors. This censored article needs to be published immediately. Collective bargaining is a basic workers’ and human right and North Carolina is violating that right.”
UE 150, along with members of Chapel Hill SDS and Student Action with Workers, demanded that UNC publish the censored article, issue a formal apology, and adopt a policy of non-interference in union organizing on campus. SDS member Tamara Tal said, “We call on students to join in this struggle against the blatant denial of workers’ rights.”
Ashaki Binta, coordinator for UE’s International Worker Justice Campaign, explained at the press conference, “We have a bill pending, House Bill 1583, to repeal this statute. We call on UNC to support that and to sit down across the table with workers in Chapel Hill to negotiate on the basic issues affecting their lives.”
The North Carolina legislature will take up the bill to repeal G.S. 95-98 in the summer of 2008. UE 150, along with the North Carolina NAACP and many other progressive organizations, is leading a major state-wide campaign to raise public support and put pressure on the politicians to repeal the statute.
Cheema explained, “We know what it’s going to take. We need a grassroots movement to empower rank-and-file workers and build community support to abolish General Statute 95-98.”
He continued, “Here at UNC, outreach to students can help shift the balance of power in our favor. Students should understand the pain and troubles of workers. UNC is a good school and they have many classes on labor rights and poverty issues - but students need to go beyond textbooks and see the reality for workers on this campus.”
March 2008 "It's useful to look at the old SDS as one of the best student organizations in the country," says Ben Carroll, a UNC sophomore. "The spirit and the energy of the old SDS carries a great history, but we need to create a movement for today's times rather than trying to recreate something from the past."
"People don't have as direct of a stake in what's going on," says UNC junior Clint Johnson. "There is no draft, and that's why we had the draft card demonstration."
Press play to begin In late February, SDS organized a mock recruiting station in the Pit, at which an Iraqi war veteran spoke about his combat experiences and protesters burned fake draft cards. Many onlookers seemed puzzled, as if a draft card were as quaint as a ration booklet from World War II.
"We're all drafted in the sense that we're responsible for what's going on; it's a de facto acceptance on the part of the public," Johnson says. "Not having a draft hurts, in that people don't have a real incentive. That puts the current movement on a different plane of morality; people are protesting despite the fact they're not facing the draft themselves."
Kosta Harlan remains an SDS member, even though he has graduated. "It wasn't like, 'Well, I'm done with that,'" he says. "I feel a sense of responsibility for what's taking place in Iraq."
The UNC-Chapel Hill chapter launched in September 2006, shortly before former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's speech on campus. Since then, the group, which has about two dozen members, has led rallies and demonstrations at UNC and at Chapel Hill's military recruiting station, and occupied the local office of U.S. Rep. David Price, who voted against the war but has not called for the troops' immediate withdrawal. (A Price staff member called police, who arrested the protesters. Local civil rights attorney Al McSurely represented SDS members in court; trespassing charges were dropped.)
Tamara Tal, a graduate student and SDS member, says. "We don't endorse candidates or do voter registration. I see our role as to educate people about the real limitations of what the candidates stand for and why the two-party system isn't working. The war isn't going to end if Obama or Clinton is elected."
Hannah Simmons, a senior, was among those skeptical about public protests, until she attended an anti-war demonstration last spring in Washington, D.C. "I used to think it was just people chanting and making themselves feel better. But then I realized that the power of feeling like you're doing something with like-minded people and the strength that you get. It can be a stimulus to get more information and become more involved. It can be a very powerful thing."
"I don't think it will be any one group that ends the war," Simmons says. "That would be arrogant to say. But I all these parts add up and the SDS plays an important role."