An uncertain future makes socialism an important issue to many Kent State students


Roses are one of the symbols of socialism. 

Madisyn Woodring Reporter

Shelby Pratt was in her preteen years when the 2008 recession changed her life. Her father lost his job as an executive for a trucking company, which forced her family to go on food stamps and move from Ohio to North Carolina.

“Nothing ever changed [in society]. That also kind of set me down this path,” said Pratt, a junior sociology major. “Me, an 11- or 12-year old girl, was living in a very privileged kind of bubble and had my life directly affected by capitalism.” 

After reading and learning more about leftist theory, Pratt felt she resonated with socialist ideology.

Socialism is a system with public ownership of resources rather than private. Red roses are one of the many symbols of socialism. 

“It is not controlled by corporations that are profiting off of the labor of the masses and is not controlled by politicians that are beholden to these corporations,” Pratt said.

This idea appeals to young people who worry about student debt, climate change, health care and low wages, she said.

“Why would I care about my job when I’m making $8.55 an hour and getting yelled at by old people and I’m not experiencing any of the fruits of my labor?” Pratt said. “Why would I not feel lost?”

Pratt is the vice president of Kent State’s chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America. 

This club works on teachings, fundraisers and events. For example, they will be hosting a winter warmth drive where they collect warm clothes and toiletries to donate them to shelters.

Colt Hutchinson, the president of Students for a Democratic Society, became dissatisfied with the status quo during the Obama presidency.

“He had this big grassroots movement. He sort of gutted that when he came into power,” Hutchinson said. “I watched that happen as a kid and immediately got turned off to Democrats or the way that the current order was set up.”

Hutchinson began to question more and push further to the left after reading Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech in high school as well as other left-wing works.

Yet, some college students feel capitalism is the superior system.

“Capitalism is what has risen people up and be able to pull them up from their bootstraps and give them a successful future,” said Alexa Schwerha, president of Students for Trump on campus. “That is what the American dream embodies with being able to envision a future for yourself and being able to work and be successful with that.”

Despite being on opposite sides of the political spectrum, socialists and conservatives have more similarities than either side admits, Pratt said. 

For example, conservatives and socialists may hold similar views on gun control.

“I actively support gun rights in this country,” Hutchinson said. “I don’t believe in a lot of these gun control things that they’re doing.”

It is important to remember, Pratt said, that average people, no matter their political leaning, have more in common with each other than they do with millionaires.

“We are not your enemy,” she said. “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

Madisyn Woodring covers politics. Contact her at [email protected]