‘Solidarity’ aims to promote left-wing values on campus and help local areas

Founded in February 2020, the club intends to discuss local and national issues on campus through a left-wing perspective.

Photo+courtesy+of+Solidarity.

Photo courtesy of ‘Solidarity’.

Richard Pereira, Sports Editor

With political activism being commonplace on FAU’s campus with organizations such as College Democrats and College Republicans, clubs independent of them tend to vary based on their overall objectives and the impact they want to have on campus.

Founded in February 2020, Solidarity is a club that intends to give a left-wing perspective on issues that occur on campus, in local areas, and at the national level.

Club President Joao Staziaki said that Solidarity is about the ways they can commit to socialist and anarchist activism on campus.

“What socialist [and] anarchist activism means is like helping people out using those principles,” Staziaki said. “We believe that it’s one thing to believe things but it’s another thing to actually do something about it. It’s just a vehicle through which we can do things.”

Vice President Trevor Brock shared a similar definition of the club, saying that they formed the club to help not only the people on campus but also locally, such as in the Palm Beach and Broward county area.

“The fact that it’s anarchists and socialists, it doesn’t really matter,” Brock said. “We really do encourage and accept anyone of any political standing, as long as they’re willing to lend a hand with the activism itself,” Brock said.

The club currently holds a weekly food and resource drive where people can donate food and supplies for the club to take to a group of independent collectives that fight against war, hunger and poverty, Food Not Bombs, so they can be distributed to the homeless. They also want to have beach cleanups and discussions about the flaws of capitalism and why switching to a socialist or anarchist system can help fix those issues.

“Along with that, we’re planning a canvassing event of the poor areas around here in Palm Beach County just to see what needs they have and what we can do about it,” Brock said.

Lisa Ramirez, treasurer of the club, said that despite the amount of division between people given the current political climate, Solidarity is the middle ground in making an effort to help people despite political differences.

“Solidarity is really just a place to learn more about leftist views and politics but it’s not specifically leftist,” Ramirez said. “It’s just a place to be helpful to improve your community in ways that you [can] be the change that you want to be.”

Other conversations the club wants to have with people are the topics of climate change, positive masculinity, and feminism.  

“We want to do a meeting about positive masculinity and the problems [that] affect both men and women,” Staziaki said. “[It’s] essentially doing a meeting about the side of feminism that a lot of people don’t really want to talk about or don’t really know about, which is the side that really does deeply care about men in society.”

Ramirez shared something similar; when those debates occur, she doesn’t want just leftists but also people with different views on those issues to participate. 

“I want to get [people] with other views [to] come in and talk about it because I don’t want to create an echo chamber,” she explained.

According to Staziaki, one of the goals of the club is to be a place where people can talk more comfortably and do the activism they believe to be important.

“Essentially, it’s just to grow and do more stuff,” Staziaki said. “Off-campus, it’s to help out the community because we believe that we should not just help out the student body or only care about the student body, [because] at least a lot of us live around here. We know people around here and [people who] work around here. We live in this community, so we think that it should be better.”

Mutual aid is also an objective the club wants to establish, which Brock said allows people to work together to help each other out through struggling times. 

“You want to establish mutual aid so that a community can pick itself up if you’re dealing with an impoverished neighborhood, and maybe at some point, they’re able to really help themselves out in that situation as opposed to [relying on] the government,” Brock said. “Along with that, we want to sort of argue for anarchism and socialism, but as opposed to just debating about it with our words, which is all well and good, we want to do actions that actually helps people and ideally that shows people like, ‘hey, this is what we’re about.’”

One issue on campus the club wants to address is the interests that influence the university’s actions and decision-making, such as the for-profit private prison lobby GEO Group and conservative groups.

“This is something that we’ve heard from people that we know who have been involved in Student Government, so we essentially would like to address that,” Staziaki said. “And we have an idea for working with other groups on campus. We’ve talked to some people from FAU NOW (National Organization for Women) and NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and what we would like to do is help lead the charge and help organize some kind of demonstration or action against all of that.”

According to Brock, the club aims to improve security with food, clothing, and reliable transportation for students on and off-campus.

“If you’re a college student, even if you live on campus, you could still be poor and struggling,” Brock said. “We know that there are people like that who exist, and there are people like that who exist off-campus too and still go to school here. So we want to be able to, at some point, help them out.”

Ramirez was critical of how the school portrays inclusion and diversity, noting how it takes pride in being one of the most diverse in the country. 

“To pride yourself on that diversity and also have this problem where you treat students like this or you don’t view them as equals, it doesn’t make sense,” Ramirez said.

When asked how people have reacted to the club since it’s based on the idea of socialism and communism, Staziaki recalled a time last semester when the club was doing its food drive and people from Campus Catholics came to them and conversed in a friendly manner.

“They would just genuinely have conversations with us about it, and they were incredibly nice and really cool,” Staziaki said. “Essentially they were just like, ‘we don’t agree with you but we like what you’re doing.’”

Brock said he’s also seen the reactions to their club go from positive and friendly to negative and hostile, depending on the people who talk to them.

“We understand that for most people growing up in America, you’re subjected to propaganda about both ideologies, not to say that there haven’t been some bad things that have been done [by] them,” Brock said. “There has, just like anything else, but there’s typically a lot of misconceptions floating around. When you go, ‘Oh, I’m an anarchist,’ it’s the misconceptions that talk for you before you’re able to.”

Ramirez stated how socialism has a negative connotation in America due to the Cold War and propaganda that led people to believe that communism inherently means authoritarian communism. For example, she thinks that when many liberals hear communism, they think of Stalinism, the Soviet Union, China, and the places they don’t agree with.

“[To] a further extent, the Republicans, conservatives and far-right people just think this is a terrorist organization,” Ramirez said. “The best way to explain it is that it’s not necessarily that we’re trying to overthrow the government and have no food; we’re just trying to help homeless people. I don’t know how we get to that idea from that.”

The club’s visibility on campus is important to Staziaki because when they began the club, it was small until they realized the number of people that walk around school day-to-day and agree with them are plentiful.

“We talk for that purpose and also to just normalize the fact that we exist here,” Staziaki said. “If it’s okay for people to have the abortion signs on the Free Speech lawn and for a preacher to preach, then it’s okay for a bunch of communists to have a food drive every week.”

Brock said it’s crucial for the club to be around because people are hurting and they should be helped out.

“It’s important because all the issues that are affecting the world affect us at a collegiate level, just as much as they affect everyone else out there in the real world, like climate change, poverty, the huge rates of incarceration that are insane,” Brock said. “All these things are matters that can be dealt with, so I think it’s important that there’s a group on the inside that you can sort of begin organizing with now while you’re in college.”

Ramirez sees Solidarity’s biggest strength as being able to directly address the issue of how people live within the system of capitalism, particularly when they live in poverty because they don’t have the necessities to live a happy life. 

“I don’t think anybody in America wants anyone to be poor, it’s statistics that they are and it shouldn’t be. We shouldn’t have people that die on the streets because of statistics,” Ramirez said. “We should [let] people have more chances because that’s what the American Dream is.”

Richard Pereira is the Sports Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @Rich26Pereira.