SDS strife causes split


SDS member Frank Runninghorse (Photo by Courtney Johnson/2010 The Inquirer)

Jonathan Roisman

The March 4 rally at DVC to protest fee hikes had unintended consequences for Students for a Democratic Society, with nearly a dozen members splitting off to form their own group after a dispute involving SDS member Frank Runninghorse.

Members of the new group, Radical Solidarity Coalition, accused Runninghorse of “an undemocratic move” after he issued an unauthorized written statement disavowing SDS’ connection with disruptions that occurred during the rally.

In the statement, Runninghorse said the club did not condone the pulling of fire alarms or the opening of classroom doors during the campus march.

But members of the new splinter group said they did not back the statement put forth by the club because they did not approve it. And they tried to level sanctions against Runninghorse that would prohibit him from printing literature, but the vote failed.

“We want to fight these budget cuts that are causing classes to be cut and financial aid to be cut,” former SDS member Sean Gallagher said of the split. “We felt that SDS did not have an effective strategy for doing that.”

Runninghorse said he did not need prior approval from SDS officers to print the statement.

SDS president Brian Donovan said Runninghorse was at the center of the split.

“There is some animosity towards Frank Runninghorse,” Donovan said. “Some people feel that Frank, being an older person, is pushing too much of his agenda. Even I would like him to take a more advisory role.”

RSC is not an official DVC club, but group members said they see that as an option for next semester.

The biggest difference between the two groups now revolves around the Associated Students of DVC.

SDS members Nick Holmes and Donovan are running for student government positions for the 2010-2011 school year, while Gallagher and RSC member Rane Stark said they believe the ASDVC is ineffective.

“ASDVC is a conservative and largely apathetic [group],” Gallagher said. “We don’t see them as the leaders of the students on this campus.”

While the two groups have different political strategies, Runninghorse and Gallagher said they would work together if they both agreed with the cause.

Donovan said the SDS wants to be more educational and less radical than the RSC, but he remains friends with the former members.

“We all want the same thing,” he said. “We want justice. We want peace.”

SDS adviser Mickey Huff said the splintering of SDS was unfortunate.

“On one hand, I’m proud they stood up for what they believed in and…made a tough choice,” he said. “On the other hand, I’m proud of the students who are still there.”

Huff said he doesn’t believe SDS is any less effective as a result of the split and is proud of the club’s involvement during the March 22 rally in Sacramento and the Day of Silence, an event sponsored by the Queer Straight Alliance last week to bring awareness to the bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students.

“It’s still very positive to have a club on campus like SDS that will stand up and do those things,” he said.


Contact Jonathan Roisman at [email protected]