On Sunday, New York University’s Student Activities Board (SAB) approved the student group application of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE).
The decision comes in the wake of an outpouring of support for the IYSSE among students and professors on campus who defended the right of Trotskyists to have a club on campus. The IYSSE widely publicized the fact that NYU twice rejected its application in the 2016-2017 school year on anti-democratic grounds. It submitted its current petition with the support of 170 students.
“NYU’s administration is dominated by the military, intelligence agencies, and the Democratic Party,” said IYSSE NYU President Isaac Oseas. “They did not want a socialist club on campus and put all sorts of barriers in our place. But we put up a fight, we turned the issue of censorship against the censors, and on that basis we educated students and workers. And we won.”
The SAB last year employed many excuses in their efforts to prevent the IYSSE from forming a club, despite the fact that all of the club’s applications met the official requirements. In rejecting the IYSSE’s previous applications, the SAB claimed the club was “too similar” to other clubs on campus, that it lacked sufficient staying power among the student body, and that the school had insufficient funds to support the majority of clubs that apply each year.
“We said it is for the students, not the SAB and the administration, to decide what political views can be represented on campus,” Oseas said. “This met a powerful response.”
In response to the claim that the IYSSE lacked sufficient staying power, Oseas ran for student government—and won—garnering 121 votes in May and doubling his nearest competitor, winning 45 percent of the vote.
Oseas recently began his term in student government and became involved in the club selection process as a member of the SAB. Last Friday, when SAB administrators told him there was only enough funding to accept six clubs out of dozens of applicants, Oseas boycotted the selection process in protest. He issued a letter to his fellow SAB members calling for a public campus meeting to democratize the club selection process.
Oseas said, “As the IYSSE’s representative in student government, I reject the framework that there is no money for student clubs and I refuse to participate in it.
“The price of giving 30 clubs $1,000 each is less than the cost of tuition for one student for one year,” he continued. “It is an insult to our intelligence for the university to claim it can’t provide funds for student groups when it drives its students into debt, gets millions of dollars from its network of Wall Street alumni, and treats its top administrators with golden parachutes and penthouse Manhattan apartments.”
The decision by NYU to grant the IYSSE club shows that efforts by the ruling class to censor left-wing political views—whether on campus, on social media, or through online searches—can be defeated. The IYSSE did not accept NYU’s lies and fought to educate the student body, winning new recruits and broad support in the process.
“While we are fighting censorship at NYU, the World Socialist Web Site is fighting censorship online,” Oseas added. “Our fights for free speech are inextricably linked, and many students on campus are deeply concerned about the prospect of powerful corporations deciding what views people can and cannot read.”
Already, the campaign to block the IYSSE has backfired on the NYU administration, with the membership of the IYSSE more than doubling in the last year. The IYSSE will now enter a one-year probationary period where it will have to prove that it can meet the requirements for group status.
Oseas said the IYSSE’s victory marks a new stage in the fight for socialism in New York, the home of Wall Street. “We are fighting to turn NYU from a think-tank for Wall Street and the military into a center of political and intellectual struggle against inequality and war. Our club stands for the principle that the working class is the historically progressive force in society. We take our members to Amazon plants, to bus drivers, subway workers, telecommunications workers, and other sections of the working class who are fighting for survival in New York City, the center of world finance capital.”
NYU students interested in becoming involved with the IYSSE are encouraged to attend its next meeting, No to war on North Korea!, which will be Wednesday, October 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the Silver Center Graduate Student Lounge (Room 120).