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Atkinson: Rock Out For Roe: Radical Protest or Reductive Ego Boost?

SDS tried to aid the fight for abortion rights, but how effective were they really?
Image by Sarah Mai

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) hosted Rock Out for Roe, a concert and fundraiser for the Minnesota-based abortion fund Our Justice, at the Whole Music Club in Minneapolis on Saturday.

This event featured five Minneapolis artists: Human Error, Jada Brown, Party Foul, Jada Lynn and Rigby. The crowd was scattered and various groups of attendees were gathered loosely around a low stage. At times, the noise was almost overwhelmingly enthusiastic, while at others it was stiflingly quiet.

I had my doubts about the impact this event could have. Perhaps I am too cynical, but I found it difficult to believe that any small student organization could evoke meaningful change for an issue as contentious as reproductive rights.

Jasper Nordin has been a member of SDS since last fall. He said up to 100 attendees showed up to watch the performances and potentially donate to the cause. During the event, his task was to encourage people to donate in between sets.

SDS’ approach to event planning is nontraditional, Nordin said.

“The SDS is a sort of non-hierarchical organization,” Nordin said. “I, like all SDS members, attend meetings where we plan and organize all our events, actions and protests.”

I’m inclined to doubt the coherence and effectiveness of an organization without any set roles or hierarchy. This lack of role delegation in a political protest planning committee seems like it would invite lower event turnout.

They come across as disorganized and ineffective, especially for a student group that allows anyone to join in on their weekly planning meetings. Yes, student protests should be student-involved and anyone with an interest in the issues covered by such organizations should participate in those groups.

However, this type of large-scale event planning should have more delegation. If you want to effectively plan any kind of event, there should be a promotional media team, someone involved in outreach and an experienced planning committee. One hundred concertgoers isn’t much to write home about for an event covering an issue so important to the people of Minnesota.

Nordin said by the end of the nearly five-hour event, SDS had raised around $2,000. How much influence can $2,000 really have for the state of bodily autonomy? Two thousand dollars cannot bring back Roe v. Wade.

Perhaps that is completely beside the point of Rock Out for Roe. It does not matter how much of an impact such an event has on larger governmental politics at all. Instead, the event may just have been a way to create a sense of community among those at the University who have been most impacted by the June overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Or, maybe it was less about the overall impact of Rock Out for Roe, and more about the sense of purpose it gives those involved. Therein lies the final problem with SDS.

How self-important must one be to assume a half-organized student group can have any real impact other than inflating egos? If SDS wishes to help in the fight for abortion rights, they need to step up in their organization. They need to be more publically disruptive. If SDS wishes to work with organizations such as Our Justice, they should focus on student recruitment into groups that can enact real change.

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  • goodopinionhaver
    Sep 30, 2022 at 8:41 pm

    This is such a pathetic navel-gazing piece of writing.
    The author is clearly projecting their own inability to organize around real issues and is instead trying to write sensational hit pieces for attention.

  • Nah
    Sep 27, 2022 at 5:46 pm

    It really isn’t

  • Sorcha Lona
    Sep 27, 2022 at 2:44 pm

    “I have no idea what I’m talking about, and I think that people who care about things are self-righteous” Raising money as a grassroots organization is very difficult, let alone putting on a concert to do so. The fact that SDS was successful is raising $2000 dollars in a night is very significant.

  • Nah
    Sep 26, 2022 at 11:33 am

    Wow two thousand dollars. That’s going to make a lot of difference.

    Get a real hobby that doesn’t revolve around cosplaying as brave and important.

  • Gerard
    Sep 25, 2022 at 1:55 pm

    Do you have a reading comprehension issue? The event raised money.

  • Nah
    Sep 24, 2022 at 10:01 pm

    SDS does nothing except organize lame, feel good protest gatherings that do nothing except make you feel brave and important.

    You have never and will never effect an iota of actual change.
    You’re basically a member of a social club.

  • Nah
    Sep 24, 2022 at 9:58 pm

    “It’s also ignorant of what SDS has actually done. “

    To be clear, SDS has never actually done anything except organize annoying, self righteous protests.
    You people are a plague.

  • Gerard
    Sep 24, 2022 at 10:13 am

    So you think the event was completely useless? You’d rather it didn’t happen at all? It’s not hurting anything. $2000 is a positive impact, no matter how small. What’s your problem?

  • Annie
    Sep 23, 2022 at 9:50 pm

    This article is Not Based. Very Cringe.

  • Geo
    Sep 23, 2022 at 8:29 pm

    This article is extremely unprofessional.

    It’s made baseless assumptions of how SDS is organized.

    SDS led a pro-abortion march with 10 thousand in attendance and overall was a success. And very much disruptive.

    The Roe VS Wade benefit concert also was a success because SDS set a goal of generating $2k and accomplished it.

    This money will help people in our community. It is shameful to downplay its impact.

    There’s no legit feedback or substantive criticism here. I expect better.

  • Billy Johnsonson
    Sep 23, 2022 at 4:32 pm

    Can’t believe you showed up to this event filled with passion for change and still found ways to drag it. What a shame they let you post this trash article. Find a new job

  • Ian Janssen
    Sep 23, 2022 at 2:12 pm

    It’s pretty rich to see the author posit the ‘self-importance’ of those actively fighting for change when the concept for this piece was clearly born out of the author’s desire to feel like the more righteous activist. Perhaps a moment of reflection before putting pen to paper would have avoided such a ridiculous display of the author’s lack of self awareness.

  • FR
    Sep 23, 2022 at 12:39 pm

    If you claim to be supportive of the movement for reproductive freedom, then this article comes off as misguided and uneducated. Misinformation and tear-downs like this are actively hurting the struggle, not helping. Be better.

  • HW
    Sep 23, 2022 at 12:21 pm

    What is this article if not its own ego boost? It’s also ignorant of what SDS has actually done. Did this person attend the Roe v Wade march of over 10,000 people with about a dozen speakers from groups all across the movement, including Our Justice, the organization the author seems to hold in high esteem? Because SDS organized that march. That’s a pretty good shot at being “more publicly disruptive.” If the author wants to uphold Our Justice as a prime example, then they should look at who Our Justice has worked with and endorsed in the past. Which would enthusiastically include SDS.

    I also have a hard time seeing how this event could be viewed in a negative light with any justification other than the author’s own strange personal beef with SDS. $2000 raised for a cause in one night is a lot for any grassroots group in the twin cities (which I don’t think the author realizes, because I don’t think they organize). Many organizations here are lucky to raise over $500 at a fundraiser. And that money is going directly to Our Justice to fund abortions for real people. The author sounds angry that SDS, an organization by and for college students, isn’t a fully professionalized non-profit.

  • Olivia Crull
    Sep 23, 2022 at 11:54 am

    This article is a gross misrepresentation of the event. SDS was raising funds for Our Justice, an organization that directly funds people to receive abortions, so $2000 is going towards people literally having access to abortion. When did anyone ever claim that $2000 would bring back Roe v Wade? The characterization of SDS as unorganized also completely lacks investigation. I mean, have you even been to one of our meetings? We are one of the primary groups waging political struggle on campus and literally led 10,000 people in the street the day Roe was overturned. We will continue to organize student protests and demand abortion access on campus from our administration, meanwhile what are you doing? Producing poorly written take-downs of activist groups who are actually doing the work? Loser behavior.