PSL Forms Study Group, Seeks to Fight Against Oppression


David Chenoweth

Cameron Haskins and Ermiya Fanaeian, PSL student leaders, at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022. (Photo by David Chenoweth | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Vanessa Hudson, Editor in Chief


The Party for Socialism and Liberation is forming a new student study group at the University of Utah in March 2022. Ermiya Fanaeian and Cameron Haskins, students at the U, are the founders of the study group.

According to Fanaeian, PSL has existed in Salt Lake City for five years. It is relatively new, but the history behind it goes all the way back to the communist revolutions in Asia in the early 1900s when the group used to be known as the People’s Party.

Socialism is not new to Utah — the Worker’s Party was prominent in the 20s and 40s.

“It is also a furthering of the past,” Haskins said.

Haskins and Fanaeian are inspired by the historical communist and socialist revolutionaries of the mid 1900s including Fidel Castro, Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, the Black Panther Party, Bobby Seale and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Castro was the leader of the communist revolution in Cuba. Davis is an author, professor and activist for socialism in America. Shakur was a member of the Black Panther Party, but fled to Cuba after being convicted of murder in a New Jersey shootout.

According to the Freedom Archives, the Black Panther Party was founded on the principles of Marxism and Leninism by Seale and Huey P. Newton amid the Civil Rights Movement. Finally, King Jr. was a civil rights activist and fought for a socialist liberal revolution.

PSL is a revolution against capitalism and promotes the rights for marginalized groups. It fights for the liberation of immigrants, Black people, the Asian community, women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community and the oppressed. 

PSL has hosted numerous protests in Salt Lake City, including fighting against anti-Asian hate and highlighting issues of racism on the U’s campus.

“We see all these different oppressed groups as a part of the broader class struggle towards working class revolution,” Fanaeian said.

The difference between PSL and other communist or socialist groups is the focus on liberating these oppressed groups. PSL is a political party.

“The Party for Socialism and Liberation is not a liberal movement — we are a leftist movement,” Fanaeian said. “We are an anti-capitalist movement. We are a working class revolutionary movement.”

Haskins said PSL is also “the voice of the people and the momentum of the people.”

Haskins and Fanaeian plan to teach common socialist ideologies, history, texts and lessons about philosophers such as Karl Marx and Vladmir Lenin. They also want to educate students on how to fight against oppression, specifically on campus.

“The overall goal of this group is to study together and learn about revolutionary measures of the past, but also [how to] prevent attacks on our communities at the school,” Haskins said.

The U has faced several racial and domestic violence incidents in recent years. According to the values of PSL, there are institutional problems that need to be addressed and that will be addressed within the study group. A bomb threat against the Black Cultural Center is the most recent known racial incident.

“It was really frustrating to see what happened with a bomb threat,” Haskins said. “These things have continuously happened on campus over and over.”

Fanaeian said the murder of Lauren McCluskey was the result of the police department failing to do anything about her numerous reports.

The founders of the study group are critical of the U’s leaders.

“My eyes were focused at the leadership of the university,” Haskins said. 

It all falls back on what the leadership has failed to address.

“These assaults are a result of the institution, the presidency’s office — Taylor Randall’s office — our safety department, our police departments having absolutely no plan in place to really ensure the safety of these students from continuous attacks like this,” Fanaeian said.

It is important to Fanaeian and Haskins that they are able to introduce these socialist ideas to the campus community.

“There is this kind of activism happening where we are fighting against the ruling class and capitalist exploitation,” Fanaeian said.

Haskins is excited to see where this group goes.

“I’m most excited to see and meet new students who feel the same way and want to organize and put efforts into protecting ourselves and also advocating and fighting for what’s best for us collectively as students,” he said. 

The PSL student study group will be officially formed in early March 2022 and all students are invited and welcome to join. More information about the study group and the party itself can be found on Instagram at @pslsaltlake.


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