January 2019 General Meeting

Howdy all!

First off, a couple things:

Join DSA proper! Dues start at $20/year for students, and it helps the organization at all levels–once we’re officially recognized, we can even start getting a cut of all the dues paid nationally. Just go to dsausa.org/join

Now, if you’re anything like me, you had a delightful and exhausting holiday season, but it’s the New Year now, and so that means it’s time to jump back into organizing with a fervor that you never had within you! Our first General Meeting of the year was on Monday, and what a meeting it was. Below, you’ll find a brief outline of all of our upcoming events, then a more in-depth description of everything that happened, including links and attachments where relevant. It’s a lot of information, but it’s all important information and very good to know!

Upcoming Events in January:

  • Jan. 12th, 13th, 20th, 26th, 27th
    • The Housing Working Group will be canvassing.
  • Jan. 15th, 11:30am
    • The Healthcare Working Group will be spearheading a contingent of LKDSA’ers going to the Kansas People’s Agenda rally at the State Capital in Topeka. If you want to attend, please preregister at kansaspeoplesagenda.org. If you need a ride, let us know!
  • Jan. 15th, 17th, 29th, 30th, 6-7pm
    • The Socialist Education Working Group, in concert with the Socialist Feminism Working Group, will be holding Socialist Feminist Theory Group in the Meeting Rooms at the Library. No prior reading required.
  • Jan. 18th, 7pm (subject to change)
    • The Steering Committee will be holding our chapter’s first bi-weekly New Member Meet’n’Greet of the New Year! The location is TBD, but if you have any friends who you think might be interested in us but who might be intimidated by a General Meeting, this is the thing to recommend to them! And it’s not just for new folks either! It’s a fun time, so come on down to [REDACTED] and have a hoot and a holler.
  • Jan. 19th, 2pm
    • The Socialist Feminist Working Group is going to be canvassing at the KC Women’s March! It’ll be a lot of fun and it’s always great to be part of a march. Let us know if you need a ride!
  • Jan. 21st or 22nd (clarification as the date approaches)
    • The Labor Working Group will be attending a Kansas Appleseed meeting, discussing strategies to radicalize workers and develop a worker-driven response group to Downtown Lawrence Inc. The meeting will be taking place at 211 E 8th St, and more information is forthcoming.
  • Jan. 23rd, 11am
    • The KU Working Group are planning on tabling at KU’s Winterfest, looking to sign students onto our email list and begin to get them involved in organizing both on campus and in the community! If you’re a student who would be interested in tabling as part of this, let us know!
  • Jan. 28th, 7pm
    • Our Reading Group will be meeting at S&S Coffee (on the Northeast corner of 23rd & Iowa) to discuss State and Revolution by Lenin. You are strongly encouraged to read the book before the meeting, but you’re allowed to come either way! If you need a copy, email contact@lawrencedsa.com, because one of our co-chairs has… a completely reasonable number of copies, which he is willing to give away to any interested party for free.
  • Jan. 30th, 5:30-6:30pm
    • The Healthcare Working Group has booked Lori Slettehaugh of Healthcare Now! which is part of the KC M4A coalition to speak with us! The event will be held at the beautiful Carnegie Building at 200 W. 9th St. Tell your friends, and come on out! The group will also be flyering in preparation for the event, so if you’re interested in helping with that, let us know!
  • Jan. 31st, 7pm
    • The Housing Working Group is finishing our month with a bang–holding a community forum/teach-in on housing and tenants’ rights to get a sense of what our chapter’s aims on that subject ought to be and inform folks about what they can do to improve their lives as renters. It will be in the Library’s Auditorium, and most of their canvassing throughout the month will be to the end of turning out people for this, so tell everyone you know who rents about it!

And that’s it! Wow! That’s a lot of events. There will be others as well, and we’ll let you know about those as we get closer to them! If you have any questions about any of those, let us know.

But, without further ado, let’s get to the actual meeting. This one was a really big one, in a lot of ways, so I’m going to make every effort to spend as little time on all of the many, many things that happened as possible.

We had incredible attendance for this meeting, with plenty of new or fairly new people, which brought into sharp relief how badly we need to find a larger space for our General Meetings. The good folks on the Steering Committee are working on this, but if you know of any spaces we might be able to use, let us know!

This was the first meeting in which we made use of Robert’s Rules, and we put that system to good use by voting on a whole lot of things. We will continue to use it in future meetings, so if you’re not familiar, we encourage you to look them up and get some familiarity with them (though we will continue to explain them at the beginning of every General Meeting for the foreseeable future.)

The first matter at hand was, as always, Working Group reports, and I’ll hit very quickly the state of all of them below. If you have interest in any of the work any of our WGs are doing, email contact@lawrencedsa.com, and I’ll connect you with the person leading that work!

The Housing Working Group is set to have a busy month, canvassing to get the word out for their community forum/teach-in before it occurs on the month’s final day. They need help with their canvassing, and any help you can give in getting the word out will be appreciated. Details above.

The Electoral Working Group is recruiting! They’re looking for people who are interested in researching candidates or developing electorally-oriented campaigns for the chapter to work on! Also, though he didn’t do so under the auspices of the Electoral Working Group, member Dave is looking for anyone who would be interested in working on a voter registration campaign–and that campaign is undoubtedly going to be closely entwined with the Electoral Group. If you’re interested in helping getting folks in Douglas County more actively involved in their political lives, let us know, and we’ll put you in touch with Dave.

The Healthcare Working Group is going to be participating in a Kansas People’s Agenda rally in Topeka on the 15th, and is hosting Lori Slettehaugh, a Medicare for All speaker, here in town on the 30th! More info on both above. They’ll also be in need of some legwork for flyering to increase awareness for their speaker!

The Socialist Feminist Working Group is working on getting people together to attend and canvass at the KC Women’s March on the 19th. More info on the event above. This is in preparation for the Women’s Strike in March, which we plan to help organize a contingent for in Lawrence. If you think that we might be able to organize a Women’s Strike in your workplace, and would be interested in organizing to that end, let us know! And, even if you don’t, as things progress, the WG is going to be trying to create a strike fund to subsidize any workers who participate in the strike for their lost wages, so you may still be able to help! More info forthcoming.

The Socialist Education Working Group is working with the SocFem Working Group on having several Socialist Feminist Theory Groups later this month–more info above.

Reading Group took last month off because it usually falls late in the month, but it’s back with a vengeance this month, as we’re reading Lenin’s State & Revolution. Read it, and then come to the meeting on Jan. 28th and talk about it!

The Newsletter Working Group is working on putting together the beginnings of a left-wing local news source for Lawrence and its environs. At the moment, they’re planning on creating a 4-page Monthly Newsletter, with the first month’s edition focusing on Housing issues. If you’re interested in doing some graphic design, writing, editing, or anything else regarding the Newsletter, let us know!

The Labor Working Group is working with Kansas Appleseed as well as local educators at all levels of education. They’ll be representing our chapter at the Kansas Appleseed Service Worker meeting on the 21st or 22nd (more info above), and remain closely in league with the graduate teaching assistants’ union at KU.

Hannah, lead on the KU Working Group, is looking for people who would be interested in taking the lead on organizing on campus. Email contact@lawrencedsa.com if you would be interested and we’ll put you in contact! Even so, we will be tabling at KU Winterfest on the 23rd, details above.

Last but not least, our Mutual Aid Working Group got a tour of the Lawrence Community Shelter, and their directorship expressed interest in working with us if we would be willing to do any volunteer work with them! If you would be interested in that at any point, let us know so we can try to get groups together to go help!

Okay, so that’s what our working groups are up to, so now we only have the details of what actually happened at the meeting itself, so there’s not too much more, I promise!

After Working Group Reports, we moved on to one of the larger issues that has plagued our chapter–actually being recognized as an official chapter by the National Organization. We’re nearly at the end of the process, but had received recommended edits to our bylaws from the National Committee who review every new chapter’s bylaws to make sure they’re in line with DSA’s values. There were only three recommended changes that our Steering Committee felt were large enough to warrant being voted on by the chapter at large–those to our Quorum rules, our rules surrounding Membership in Good Standing, and our Grievance Process.

On quorum, our previous policy was arcane and would have made it very difficult for us to make quorum during the summer months. National recommended that we change it to being at least 5% of chapter membership, but no fewer than 6 members in good standing (more on that shortly.) There was little disagreement or commentary on this change.

On our membership-in-good-standing rules, National had basically one note: remove them. National has fairly strict rules against chapters having their own rules for membership outside of paying National dues. When we had talked to people from National about this, it seemed relatively clear that this wasn’t something they were interested in budging on, so we didn’t force the point. What this will mean going forward is that only people who are current on their dues to National will be eligible for elected offices in our chapter, and to vote on chapter issues in meetings. However, if you are interested in running for elected office, or just want to be a member in good standing, let the Steering Committee know! We want to enable as many people as possible to pay dues to National, and can help financially. If you want to do it yourself, just pop on over to dsausa.org/join!

Finally, our grievance process. National’s note here was to remove it from the bylaws, but not strike it from our rules entirely. The thing about bylaws is that they can only be changed over the course of at least two General Meetings, and only with a chapter vote. This isn’t a good thing for a grievance process, which should, even if crafted well, still be changeable to fit the needs of circumstance. We will be adopting our grievance process as it existed in our bylaws previously as our official grievance process, but it won’t be in the bylaws, so it will be changeable by emergency vote if a corner case arises.

All of these changes were basically uncontroversial and passed unopposed in a chapter vote. If you have any questions or concerns, absolutely let us know. Just because there was limited discussion at the meeting doesn’t mean that there aren’t valid concerns to be voiced.

That concluded our discussion about our bylaw changes. After this, we took some time to ratify five working groups which hadn’t yet been officially recognized and ratified, while we had the chapter present.

The Healthcare Working Group and Newsletter Working Group were ratified pretty easily and quickly. The Transport and Socialist Feminist Working Group, both relatively new, laid out their proposals, and the Transport Working Group (better known as the Bus Working Group) especially enjoyed fun and vigorous discussion, basically all positive. The Socialist Feminist Working Group was similarly well received, and both were ratified unopposed. That said, the Transport Group deserves a bit more explanation on account of how different it is from others.

If you didn’t know, our co-chair Z has been wanting a bus for the chapter for a few months now. If this sounds wild to you, that’s because it is, but he has prepared a thirteen-page report on all of the ins and outs of the bus. I’m not gonna try to do justice to his arguments, but I encourage you to read it for yourself. Either way, the Working Group has been ratified and its goal is endorsed by the chapter, so we look forward to seeing what that turns up!

All of that said, our eyes should remain firmly on on-the-ground organizing and building working class power! And to that end, we also ratified a new elected position: The Security Committee Chair, and the associated committee. This position and committee will exist to keep an eye on local reactionary groups as well as being familiar with their goals both short and long-term.

So, we need people to nominate themselves for the position! If you think you have what it takes, or even think that you could at some point in the future, we encourage you strongly to nominate yourself and write up a brief paragraph about why you think you could do the job well! We have one nomination already, and we’d love to have several more.

And with that, we were done with the work of the meeting! We got so much done! We have so much coming up this month, and so much more floating off in our future! The future of the chapter is somehow even brighter than its present, and there’s no better time to get more involved than now.

Speaking of getting involved, how can you do that? Just get in contact about something you’re passionate about, and we’ll connect you with someone working on it! Or, if there isn’t anyone, we’ll give you the help you need to get started on it yourself! Contact us at contact@lawrencedsa.com!

And that’s it! If you read all this, thanks! If you didn’t, thanks still!

Solidarity and Love,

Secretary, LKDSA