To write that many RSU members had a "pro-negotiation, 'Just reason it out with the authorities' attitude" is disappointing. Again, maybe it was loud, but we weren't saying reason with the authorities, some were stressing the need to open a dialogue and articulate demands that would allow us to win so that we would have the feeling we had when we left last rather than leaving "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory," as Tom Hayden puts it. Additionally, the split between those committed to direct action as a way to achieve our goals and those that were looking to begin a dialogue with the university administration is merely a tactical difference. There were many perspectives on what would have been the best way for the occupants to be able to leave the occupation victorious, which was the attitude of many of the RSU members
The claim that many "prominent [RSU] members were against the occupation," is highly inaccurate. In a meeting on Monday night, one RSU member proposed for the occupation to take place Thursday so that we could spend the next two days organizing the dorms and classroom buildings to spread the word about the occupation, articulate our demands, and get more people to join us either inside the occupation or outside in solidarity demonstrations. That proposal was voted down, but I fail to see where that equates to being against the occupation from the beginning (unfortunate perhaps as I'm sure many have read that a certain amount of New School students either did not know about the occupation or misunderstood its desired effect, something more prior organizing may have helped to limit). For a group with many, many members against the occupation from the beginning, the RSU sure did mobilize a large amount of people who were either participants in the occupation, or were helping to coordinate the demonstrations outside. This speaks to a certain amount of dedication in that some RSU members may have been divided in debate but were certainly united in action, something certainly lacking from some of the 20 revolutionary anarchists mentioned with the setting up of the "Autonomous Faction of Non-cooperation Against the Division of Labor." In fact, many of the RSU members who were participants were indeed willing to go to jail if necessary, and helped formulate demands and do what we could to keep the momentum going. Characterizing RSU members as being against direct action while being largely in attendance of an event that by definition was direct action is problematic as well. There was a difference in strategies in large part, for sure. I myself felt as though the occupation was being driven itself as a strategy when in fact it was part of a much more long-term struggle in which it was merely a tactic – albeit a highly successful one.
New York City is nowhere near the level of struggle taking place around the globe, and it will require a lot more patient organizing and education (which does not negate direct action) before it is. This occupation was an important first step towards more militant action, but we must keep in mind what things were like before the occupation. As it stands, Kerrey, Murtha, and Millard are still in power, yet we could not be in a better place going into the next semester. We must learn from these actions and begin to work together to build the type of student movement needed to take back the university from the warlords and business people who have final decision making power in how the school operates. The occupants of the Graduate Faculty Building articulated a very clear demand for a university in which students, faculty, and staff have a say in the operations of the university in proportion to the degree they are affected. Let us celebrate our significant victory and join in building a student movement capable of being a catalyst for the type of change that our society needs. Education, protests, occupations, and strikes – we must do whatever we can to build a movement and take back our university.
Radical Student Union