COLUMBUS, Ohio - A coalition of student and youth groups has called a national conference, the Student Power Convergence 2012, August 10-14 in Columbus, Ohio, to bring together youth and student groups fighting for progressive changes across the nation.
"We expect hundreds of folks to be at the Convergence in August," said Stuart McIntyre, an organizer for the event. McIntyre worked to build the Ohio Student Association earlier this year. "Young people are in the front ranks of people fighting against the corporate attacks on the 99% across our nation," he said.
"Young people are among those most hard-hit by cuts in programs that aid regular people," McIntyre said. "Young people are just trying to get started in their work-lives, they have less savings, seniority, no job history and are now burdened by massive student loans, almost impossible to repay in many cases. They are some of the most vulnerable, but also some of those most ready to fight for their rights. We want to bring young folks who've been in these fights together and strengthen all of our movements."
The new Convergence website has already gotten communications from groups in New York, Los Angeles, Wisconsin, Michigan and elsewhere, he said.
The Convergence hopes to build from recent struggles involving labor, youth and students.
At Ohio State University, the Ohio Student Association was active in last year's historic labor-led victory over Ohio's union-busting Senate Bill 5, and in opposing efforts by the university to privatize parking, raise tuition and curtail student housing..
"The labor movement is one of our strongest allies," McIntyre said, adding that the repeal of SB 5 "was also a victory for students and young people. We hope to have union help for Convergence in August, hopefully on housing, food, as well as speakers and young workers attending the event. Unions have experience, stability, that can help the student movement as it develops."
The Ohio Student Association hosted an Ohio Youth Congress in Columbus this past January, which brought together student groups from over a dozen colleges and universities in Ohio. Front and center was the massive student loan crisis, which has now become a national political issue.
"Many times young people see the national issues as something too big to deal with, but local issues, like the fight against OSU's taking over much of the housing stock near campus or fighting to stop onerous privateers from running all parking in the area, are issues we were able to get thousands involved in," McIntyre said. "We actually won some concessions after petitions with thousands of signatures were turned in on the parking issue. The Convergence conference in August should help us all learn from each other."
There is no registration fee for the Student Convergence. Planners urge those who are interested to contact them as soon as possible, via the website, so that housing, workshops, and other arrangements can be set.
Photo: Ohio Student Assocation