Nathaniel Mcguigan, minister of communications for Humboldt’s chapter of Party of Socialism and Liberation (PSL), and Gloria La Riva, American socialist activist, leads workshop at HSU on proposition 10 for rent control. | Photo by Tony Wallin

Rent repeal

Party of socialism and liberation club host workshop on affordable housing proposition.
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Party of socialism and liberation club host workshop on affordable housing proposition

Nathaniel McGuigan, a Humboldt State University senior in biology and minister of communications for the HSU Party of Socialism and Liberation branch, invited special guest Gloria La Riva to Humboldt State University on Sept. 21 to direct a workshop on Proposition 10.

“The party is growing and workshops like the one on Prop. 10 are for reaching out to community members,” McGuigan said.

McGuigan said the reason for the workshop was to bring awareness of social issues to the growing working class because it affects them the most.

Proposition 10 supports the Affordable Housing Act. According to the proposition, approval would restore the rights of communities in California to pass stronger rent control by repealing the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, a law that has given landlords and developers unlimited power.

Gloria La Riva, once a presidential candidate for the Party of Socialism and Liberation, directed the workshop on the rent control measure. Room 206 of Nelson Hall became homebase for socialist discussion on activism and renters rights.

The workshop started five minutes late due to lack of attendance, but soon there were five sitting at the table’s rectangular set up which eventually filled to nine. Eight interested students and an eager La Riva, enough for a revolution.

“No working class people can pay what landlords are wanting to charge,” La Riva said.

In an hour and a half La Riva discussed the different laws pertaining landlords and renters that have been passed, personal experiences of travelling the world as an activist, and a brief history of rent control, not only in the United States but other countries as well. This isn’t your typical tedious history class though, it is filled with entertainment, compassion and challenges that don’t make normal media coverage.

La Riva said people in power like city officials and councils don’t want rent control to pass. When she was running against Diane Feinstein for mayor of San Francisco in the 80s, Feinstein was promising vacancy control, which is regulation of rent levels and evictions of tenants. Feinstein never fulfilled her promise, La Riva said that was because Feinstein’s husband is a landlord with lots of properties, something typical with people in office.

At some point a student asked La Riva why she was hopeful that this proposition would be successful when others in the past have failed.

“We have to keep fighting. We have to keep doing,” La Riva said.

The night went into heavy depth of socialism, the myths of socialism and what it means to be socialist. Under socialism everything is built by the workers, so everything that is done is for the collective of the community.

In a capitalist society, La Riva said, “There is only a handful of people at the top who own everything while everyone below builds everything and stays poor.”

At 7:30 the table opened up for free discussion to the students who were mostly political science majors. It was mainly McGuigan and english senior, Max Hosford, that took up the rhetoric regarding solutions.

“Once I decided Humboldt was going to be my new home, that’s when I started getting more serious about politics and researching these issues,” Hosford said.

Hosford offered recent books and political podcasts such as ‘revolutionary left radio’ for others to listen to that discuss the topics that were talked about at the workshop.

“Propagate, agitate, educate,” Mcguigan said on plans for the future. This includes their interest in the November election by focusing local and bringing awareness to issues like the removal of the McKinley statue and turning Arcata into a sanctuary city.

The flyers that McGuigan made advertising Proposition 10 brought awareness to political science senior, Owen Donnell. Donnell heard about the proposition but wasn’t really sure what it was. He knew if it was about rent control it would be beneficial.

“With how hard and unaffordable rent is, some reform is needed,” Donnell said.

Having members from the community become informed is why McGuigan wanted to have the workshop. McGuigan said being a part of PSL is solidification to his own consciousness.

The night ended after the discussion on solutions and everyone exchanged numbers. New ideas were shared and many were informed with new open ways to look at not only rent control but government parties.

“Everything is made from social production,” La Riva said, “but those that own everything are getting smaller and smaller.”

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