Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Response to Kerrey's letter to the New School Community

[editor's note: Kerrey's message is in normal font, the response is in bold]

Message from President Kerrey to the New School Community

A response to President Kerrey’s message to the New School Community

The past few weeks have seen increased protest actions on and off our campus. These demonstrations have involved many individuals outside of The New School community and the issues they protest vary. Among their concerns are the war in Iraq, Darfur, homelessness, and the economy.

Mr. Kerrey is quite confused. The direct concerns are Kerrey and Murtha and their characteristic lack of tact, understanding and ability to run a university. This includes, but is not limited to the brutality shown by the NYPD on April 10, Mr. Kerrey’s support for the Iraq War and the pressures of the economic downturn on the New School Student body (and students as a whole). Is it so unreasonable to think that students who care about such things are only self-interested and thus would not be concerned about homelessness and the genocide in Darfur? I think not. However, Kerrey seems to forget the part of Thursday’s actions when the rally (predominantly students of The New School, joined in solidarity by students from other NYC Universities) stood outside his home and reminded him that they want him to leave.

While this kind of activity by various groups is likely to continue, I write to assure you that the university continues to function normally. Classes, public programs, and events are proceeding uninterrupted. I am heartened by the hundreds of messages from students, parents, faculty, staff, and alumni who reinforce their support and appreciation for their New School experience, even in light of this recent activity.

This paragraph shows another moment of Kerrey’s lack of clarity. The point is not to prevent students at this university from achieving the education they are here for. Instead it is to remind them that Kerrey and his cabal are the primary roadblocks standing in the way of our university having such simple things as a proper library or enough cameras for those students required to take photography classes to borrow. That Kerrey has wasted the money of those he has termed both “customers” and later “terrorists” on branding while the necessities of academic pursuit are left unattended.

Your academic leaders and senior administration are working very collaboratively on recommendations for best practices with regard to the demonstrations. Provost Tim Marshall, the academic deans, Executive Vice President Jim Murtha, who is responsible for campus security, and I will continue to work together, calling in others in our community as needed, to help me decide on the appropriate response from the university.

How is it that a man who acted so foolishly during the December Occupation of 65 5th Avenue is still allowed to be in charge of security. Murtha slammed his hands on the glass of the reading room and threatened to send in the Police while the negotiators were meeting. Additionally, if Murtha is in charge of campus security then he is the man responsible for the continued and intensifying intimidation of students, particularly those who oppose his violent temper and Kerrey’s misplaced faith in him.

The suggestion made by many that we can, in most instances, increase the amount of collaboration with our academic leadership and the board is correct. Tim and the deans will focus on this change. The intent of this effort is to make changes that will make it even clearer what our protocols are for responding to occupations of buildings and other types of protests and demonstrations.

The Students must be involved in any and all developments and changes. Provost Marshall and the Deans understand this. The Faculty understands this. Why is it, Mr. Kerrey that you still do not? Your changes are illegitimate without us and I, for one, accept nothing that has not been approved by the Students of this University.

Protocols for demonstrations were not followed on Thursday, April 16. A group of about 50 individuals began a protest on the sidewalk in front of 55 West 13th Street at about 6:00 p.m., blocking the entrance and making it difficult to enter and exit the building. The group grew in size, to about 80, and marched to the corner of 6th Avenue and 13th Street and then to the Presidents residence, where they chanted and shouted for about 10 minutes before marching on to the front of 65 5th Avenue. They were met by a small contingent of NYPD officers at the Presidents residence, and a larger contingent of officers in front of 65 5th Avenue. Neither I, nor anyone else in the university administration called in the NYPD.

Protocols? Kerrey’s protocols are a miserable joke and everyone at the University knows this. After Kerrey’s blatant show of megalomaniacal disregard for all Protocols on April 10, I would be surprised if anyone wasted their time going through such a pointless process. Would Kerrey have called the now toothless demonstrations committee? It is unreasonable to think that those who reject Kerrey’s failed leadership would ask Kerrey’s administration for permission to oppose it.

From the start, I asked Provost Marshall to monitor the event and provide academic leadership for our students. He consulted closely with Lang Dean Neil Gordon and NSSR Dean Michael Schober and they monitored the situation closely.

Yes, Provost Marshall did monitor the situation closely. He took his safety into his own hands and was treated roughly by Kerrey’s friend, Ray Kelly’s officers. This was uncalled for and not only does it show Kerrey’s fallacy (as the Students would not have engaged with you as many are willing to with Provost Marshall), but it also shows the disregard for the safety of the Students and potential negotiators by both yourself and the NYPD.

The NYPD did intervene at one point when the group left the sidewalk in front of 65 Fifth Avenue and began to demonstrate in the middle of the avenue, bringing vehicular traffic to a halt. The NYPD requested that the crowd move back onto the sidewalk, however, some in the crowd refused multiple warnings. The NYPD then formed a line and started to walk the crowd toward the sidewalk, causing some pushing and shoving that resulted in the arrest of three individuals, including two Lang College students. At about 7:35 p.m. the group proceeded to Washington Square Park and protested in front of NYU’s Kimmel building, before moving on to the 6th Police Precinct to continue their protest. The event ended shortly thereafter. The three individuals arrested were issued summons for disorderly conduct and released about 10:30 p.m.

While Kerrey cowered in the President’s Residence with full knowledge that it is his foolishness and mismanagement that has brought this on. How does Kerrey think his Democratic Party friends will approach him now? Will Kerrey be asked to run for Senate again? Somehow I think that the combined cowardice of brutally murdering women and children in Vietnam followed by fear of unarmed students with a legitimate protest against his leadership will help him to fall out of favor with the party big-wigs.

The police involvement in these protests is a source of concern for many. We have been talking and listening to many in our community who are very concerned about the way the Friday, April 10 events were handled. While I and the trustees continue to believe that it is appropriate to ask NYPD to remove and arrest if necessary anyone interfering with the safety and operations of the university, I believe some changes could increase the confidence of the New School community that the correct course of action is taken.

May I remind Kerrey that it was his decision to bring in the NYPD? That the building occupied houses no classes and that it would not have disrupted the University if it had not been for the overreaction of both Kerrey and his friend Ray Kelly’s Police force. Additionally, the only people who interfered with the safety of our University were the NYPD, their unnecessary use of pepper spray on students who were attempting to peacefully surrender and the physical harm they brought to two people outside the building are horrendous displays of the contempt which Kerrey and his administration seem to have for students, especially those who oppose them.

Accordingly I have asked Tim and the deans to work with students and faculty to recommend ways to improve our demonstration policies with a mind to make clear that we support vigorous debate including protests. We must also make clear that we need policies that maintain the safety and operational security of our buildings and classrooms.

Whether or not an improved demonstration policy is drafted, any institution that either Kerrey or Murtha has power over will never support vigorous debate in opposition to their control. The Students of this University have yet to intentionally harm anyone, while the security forces, especially one Mr. Jose Villegas, have repeatedly shown contempt for their safety.

In the past four months, we have made great strides in addressing the concerns of faculty and students expressed in December, working together with the Student Senate, Faculty Senate, and the deans, officers, and Board of Trustees. This includes opening lines of communication and initiating greater participation by students and faculty in socially responsible investing, among other areas of governance.

In the past four months Kerrey has attempted to pacify one and all with grand promises and little actually change. He has set up committees to form committees (e.g. for Socially Responsible Investing) and has acquiesced to the choice of a Provost whom the Faculty and Students have faith in, while attempting to make his job as difficult as possible.

I am writing to you to help place the events of the past two weeks in context, to summarize what we have learned from these experiences, and to reassure the New School community that university operations are normal. We now need a period of reflection to take stock of the progress produced by the hard work of the faculty, students, and staff.

In this letter, Kerrey shows his clear lack of understanding of the context of the events of the last two weeks. He apparently has learned nothing at all from them and is hoping to dig in his heels while pretending that none of this will affect his standing in any way. Thus, I agree, Kerrey must reflect, gain understanding and realize that the Students of this University oppose him, the Faculty opposes him and fairly soon, the Board of Trustees may oppose him.

All of us have learned from these events. We must find ways for our knowledge to become a part of policies that maintain the highest values of our university.

How can a man who so obviously does not understand what is going on at the University he is responsible for have any understanding of the values that it holds?

Bob Kerrey

Mr. Kerrey, your time is up.
Scott B. Ritner
NSSR Department of Politics.

Monday, April 13, 2009

New School Reoccupied

Dear Friends and Comrades,

We apologize for the lack of information on this particular blog about the second occupation of 65 5th Avenue late last week.  

Please see http://reoccupied.worldpress.com for all pertinent information and we will try to be better about keeping information up on this blog as well.

The New School in Exile

Friday, March 13, 2009


Just a Reminder to the New School and any other forms of authoritarian structure imposed upon us: We stand together, We have Solidarity, We do what we do because of love for each other and love for our future; You are impersonal, You cannot stop us, You will never jeopardize our movement through crack-downs and other inhospitable actions. Our Solidarity
cannot be broken by false accusations and extreme counter-revolutionary action. We will win because We stand together no matter what befalls us, You will lose, because you can punish us as individuals as much as you like, but you cannot break our collective will!

Student Strike at Technological Institute of Puerto Rico, Manati!

Just received the press release below, issued by students who have been on strike for 10 days at the Technological Institute of Puerto Rico in the city of Manatí. They have an "encampment" in front of the campus 24 hours a day. One of the main issues is "the closing of sections that some of our students need in order to graduate," together with having "too many students per section." They are facing threats of repression and a virtual blackout in the press. Developing international solidarity among different struggles is crucial to our own. I am hoping to get more information soon from friends in Puerto Rico.


Los estudiantes del ITPR de Manatí, representados por el consejo estudiantil y con el apoyo del 100% de nuestros estudiantes declaramos la huelga. Llevamos 10 días de lucha y resistencia con un campamento establecido frente a la institución las 24 horas. Nuestros reclamos, que no son nada nuevos, sino que se vienen arrastrando de semestre en semestre sin que se presente una solución real y definitiva, son varios.

Entre los diferentes factores que están creando malestar entre el estudiantado e incluso entre la mayor parte del personal docente están: la notable falta de materiales necesarios para los respectivos laboratorios de nuestras diferentes tecnologías, entre estas:










No siendo suficiente esto también enfrentamos problemas con el cierre de secciones necesarias para que parte de nuestro estudiantado pueda graduarse, se suma a esto la falta de profesores a nuestros salones lo que provoca que haya demasiados estudiantes por sección sin contar con las facilidades necesarias. Es también notable las pobres condiciones en que se encuentran nuestras facilidades incluyendo salones, baños, áreas recreativas entre otras. Hay que recordar que nuestro instituto ofrece cursos técnicos y grados asociados para los que se requiere completar ciertas horas de práctica, esto nos trae otro problema y es la falta de una coordinadora industrial que sea eficiente y tenga un interés genuino por conseguir que nuestros estudiantes puedan realizar las mismas para cumplimentar sus estudios.

Por último y no menos importante nuestros estudiantes en su mayoría dependen de ayudas económicas puesto que no cuentan con los recursos necesarios para costear y sufragar gastos como los de la compra de libros requeridos para sus clases y estas ayudas no están llegando a tiempo.

Como debe ser de su conocimiento las becas son ayudas federales que son destinadas únicamente a los estudiantes que la solicitan y cumplen con los requisitos necesarios para la misma ¿y el dinero? Nadie puede ofrecer una respuesta clara ni el Departamento de Educación, ni el Departamento de Hacienda, ni la Institución. Es por esto que entre las cosas que reclamamos están el desembolso del dinero y una investigación sobre la manera en que estos fondos se administran.

En resumen, para que la huelga termine exigimos la entrega de la beca, el nombramiento de profesores para abrir las secciones que necesitan nuestros estudiantes graduandos, la limpieza de las facilidades del plantel y el recogido de escombros y además los materiales necesarios para las diferentes tecnologías. Siendo las mismas cumplidas estaremos dispuestos al diálogo para resolver sin más preámbulo las situaciones que nos aquejan.

A pesar de las constantes AMENAZAS de usar la fuerza y la amedrentación por parte de la directora interina de la institución, la Sra. Collazo; continuaremos con nuestra manifestación y lucharemos por nuestros derechos.

From: Concerned Undergraduate Students at the University of the Ryukyus

Dear the Students in Exile

We, the Students of the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan, sincerely express our solidarity with the Students in Exile.
We also began to occupy and sit-in on our campus from March 9. 2009.
The Globe is just one, and we hope that the students could develop a global society of solidarity against the neoliberalism.
Please read our Statement, Support Letter and our Blog (http://loudaisei.seesaa.net/ Unfortunately most of it are written in Japanese) ,if you have much time.

>From the Students of the University of the Ryukyus

(the Statement and Support Letter are as follows:)

The Statement of Occupation

The authorities at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan, have decided to lay off its adjunct language faculty members and massively reduce the number of foreign language courses without fully disclosing why such policies were necessary. Alarmed by the situation, we, the students, have demanded direct negotiations with the university officials twice in the past. But the university dismissed our first demand through writing, and decided to ignore our second request. The university officials thus deliberately failed to create a democratic forum where the students and they could openly discuss the issues and seek possible solutions.

We, the students of the university, will start occupying our campus. As the students who have studied justice, freedom, human rights, and resistance and have been trying to apply them to real life conditions, we question and resist the anti-democratic actions taken by the
university authorities.

The aim of this sit-in is to create a situation in which the university authorities must genuinely acknowledge the flawed and problematic nature of its so-called "new language curriculum." If the university still exists for us, the students (as stipulated in its Mission Statement), then the current situation in which it refuses to consider our concerns not only needs to be rigorously critiqued but must be radically changed.

This situation is not the sole concern of the students and adjunct faculty members at the University of the Ryukyus. While the occupation of campus began as a critical response to the neoliberalization of our university and the attendant impoverishment of our educational program, it also aims to shed light upon other related issues such as the breakdown of our "autonomous" university system, crisis of educational system within the Okinawa Prefecture at large, and the issue of unemployment among the residents of Okinawa.

Based upon these conditions and reasons, we demand the officials at the University of the Ryukyus to:

1) Repeal the so-called "new language curriculum."
2) Hold a public meeting about the "new curriculum" that is open to all members of the society.
3) Dismiss president TERUO IWAMASA, and vice presidents KEISUKE TAIRA and RISHUN SHINZATO.
4) Allow the student representatives to participate, speak, and vote at the Board of Trustees' meetings.
5) Establish the democratic election system to appoint president and all board members.
6) Ensure all the rights of the students involved in the occupation and not impose any punitive measure on them.

This occupation is a protest against the university authorities' irresponsible decision to neoliberalize our university that has rather foolishly foregone its commitment to public education and caused the impoverishment of curriculum. This occupation is also a protest against the university officials who, with their authoritarian mindset, never even thought about offering adequate explanations to the students or inviting them into the decision-making process. We, the students, strongly condemn the university's dismissal of the students' voices and will work to reclaim the student autonomy on our own campus.

Finally, we declare our solidarity with all the others who have been actively working and sincerely hoping to abolish the new curriculum. We act with a hope that the University of the Ryukyus, along with all other universities, will reclaim its status as a "university" in the true sense of the word.

March 9th 2009

Please Support the Student Sit-in at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa
March 9, 2009

The authorities at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan, have decided to lay off its adjunct language faculty members and massively reduce the number of foreign language courses without fully disclosing why such policies were necessary. Alarmed by the situation, we, the students, have demanded direct negotiations with the university officials twice in the past. But the university dismissed our first demand through writing, and did not even respond to our second request. The university officials thus repeatedly failed to create a democratic forum where they and the students could openly discuss the issues and seek possible solutions.

As the students who have studied justice, freedom, human rights, and resistance and have been actively applying them to real life conditions, we decided to occupy our campus and voice our resistance against these undemocratically chosen, unforgivable policies. Sit-in has been an important method of self-determination that has been inventively practiced and carefully passed down by the generations of people here in Okinawa in their post-WWII struggles. Sit-in has taken
roots in Okinawa because it has allowed the people to directly create a space in which they could openly speak about what a better future meant for each of them when they were living amidst the presence of massive military forces. We thus urge the university to abolish the so-called "new language curriculum" by learning from and drawing upon the method of the resistance historically developed here in Okinawa: sit-in.

The current sit-in aims to create a situation in which the university authorities must genuinely acknowledge the flawed and problematic nature of its so-called "new language curriculum." If the university still exists for us, (as stipulated in its Mission Statement), then we, the students, need to not only critique but change the current critical situation in which our own university does not even acknowledge the concerns and demands of its students.

This situation is not the sole concern of the students and adjunct
faculty members at the University of the Ryukyus. While the
occupation of campus began as a critical response to the
neoliberalization of our university and the attendant impoverishment of our educational program, our sit-in also aims to problematize other related issues such as the breakdown of our "autonomous" university system, crisis of educational system within the Okinawa Prefecture at large, and unemployment among the residents of Okinawa.

"The new curriculum" has no legitimate basis to justify itself and
benefits no one on campus and in the society, as has been made evident by now at various meetings and through media reports. But it takes much courage for us, the students, to express our demand to abolish "the new curriculum" on the campus of the University of the Ryukyus where all types of harassment take place on a regular basis. To add to this, most tenured faculty members remain silent until today. This is why we sincerely ask for your help because it is difficult to create "the common"or the communal space in our situation now.

Please join our fight to abolish "the new language curriculum." We welcome your participation through various means available:
participation in our sit-in, donation, media coverage, and so on.
Your support and participation is much appreciated.

Concerned Undergraduate Students at the University of the Ryukyus

We stand with you in solidarity today and everyday until our struggle is Won Students of Ryukyus!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

2nd Teach-In Scheduled for Tomorrow!!!!

*New School Teach-in: Mar 4, Wed, 4-6pm
Parsons lobby, 2 w.13th st @ 5th ave

Come learn about why students and faculty have been boiling since the
winter, and what's to come in the future, including:

- History of the New School and the University in Exile
- Current Power Structure of the New School
- Brief History of Student Resistance since 1970
- What last December's Occupation Achieved
- Grievances and Problems we still have with the Administration
- April 1st: the Deadline for Change*

Thursday, February 26, 2009

NewSchoolInExile.Com Revamped and Back Up!

Dear Friends,

The Primary website of The New School In Exile (www.newschoolinexile.com) has been reformatted and is back online! Please check it out!

Also we want to publish an open letter from a student of the Graduate Program in International Studies at The New School:


I just want to bring it to everyone's attention, again, that there is
a huge issue happening with the administration. I want to share with
you what happened this afternoon so that people know the stakes. There
is an April 1st deadline issued by the students that Kerrey, Murtha,
and Millard step down from their posts, and there's a lot of
anticipation and energy around this date. The attempted suppression
of the teach-in today was appalling. Obviously it won't get press, so
I am sharing.

The teach in was scheduled for 3:30pm-8pm in the Eugene Lang
courtyard. About 20 or 30 students from various divisions of the New
School gathered in the courtyard and in the lower level of the lobby
of 65 W. 12th St. It was too cold so people decided to bring it
inside. As we started to sit down, man twice my height approached
people and started handing out a photocopied paper on New School
letterhead. The paper said that the administration had been informed
of the teach-in and that as all events had to be authorized, and that
this was an unauthorized event, it violates the Student Code of
Conduct, and that violators may be subject to disciplinary action.
After the first speaker began, the man came twice more to threaten
that administration had in fact decided that it was a violation and
that everyone would be subject to suspension.

This was a student gathering! Students were sitting around talking!
Is there a new rule against loitering in the New School? Is this not
what students do? It is abhorrent that the administration would try
to quash this meeting.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised after learning more about the changes
Bob Kerrey made to the school after he began his tenure as president
in 2001. I also imagine that it represents that the administration
feels genuinely threatened. But really! These are some George
Bush-era tactics!

Security stopped allowing visitors or students with no ID into the
building. There was a verbal interchange between the
suspension-wielding man and some students at one point, but the
teach-in continued until 6:30pm, when students left to go to support
the NYU rally for the expelled students involved in last week's
occupation. Security personnel said that they were ordered by
President Kerrey to shut the meeting down, but security refused.

The format was students sitting and standing around about 5 people who
presented and then solicited discussion with the participants.

The presentation included a history of the University in Exile, which
was formed of scholars dismissed and fleeing persecution from
expanding fascism in Europe, the first wave in 1933 and then more in
1938. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_School#University_in_exile

Next there was a description of the problems that people are having
with the president. The list is enormous: unethical investments,
increasingly limited student space, a diminishing and wholly
inadequate library, Kerrey's use of the New School as a platform to
push the country further into the war in Iraq, the use of the Parsons
Institute for Informational Mapping (PIIM) to provide the Dept. of
Defense with battlefield mapping technology, the firing of provosts,
who are like mediators or representatives of the faculty to the
administration, and the list goes on. More students are squeezed into
the biggest-paying programs with less professors. The University's
collaborative program with the Actors Studio was closed in 2005. It
was not bringing in enough profit, and the program was moved to Pace

An international student described her experience of dealing with
trying to find informal work to supplement her tuition costs. Finding
study space and computer space is still a problem. She also reported
big problems with getting medical treatment and having to negotiate
the Medicaid system. Is there no health insurance offered to
international students?

There was a section on past resistance. In about 1971, there was a
21-day occupation of the graduate faculty building. In 1997 a popular
tenure track professor Jacqui Alexander was fired and students went on
a hunger strike. They also invoked the "University in Exile" as a
source of guiding principles for just education. During Kerrey's
term, there were protests against his invitation of John McCain to
speak at Commencement and Newt Gingrich to speak about solving
American poverty, amongst others. And then, the December occupation.
The faculty vote of no confidence.

Apparently Executive Vice President James Murtha is responsible for a
lot of the issues, as his responsibility is the function of the
University. Also is treasurer of the Board of Trustees, Robert B.
Millard, because of his position as chairman of the executive
committee of the military contractor L-3 Communications. Apparently
his business associates have been the recipient of University's
strategic investment plan.

The occupation of the GF building in December, which got a lot of
criticism as well as approbation, pointed to some of the large
problems people have with the administration of the New School. I
would point you to the website to see the list of issues and demands,
but the site is suddenly and mysteriously down. Keep checking...

I just got my letter informing of this year's 4.5% tuition hike. Can
anyone afford this school anymore? Did anyone in our program receive
a scholarship? Why do we have such a high ratio of adjunct faculty to
permanent faculty?

The recent Times article on the issue:

With Determination,
The New School In Exile