Thursday, February 26, 2009

NewSchoolInExile.Com Revamped and Back Up!

Dear Friends,

The Primary website of The New School In Exile ( 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

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

Saturday, February 21, 2009

With the New School and NYU Student Occupations

With laudable exceptions, the myopic mainstream replied to the occupations in The New School and NYU in December and February, respectively, with scorn and dismissal. Four primary cables supported the convenient network of complaints submitted by these sycophants of prevailing power structures: First, the occupants are the sons and daughters of privilege and are therefore ungrateful, unworthy. Next, the push for amnesty as a salient non-negotiable demand proves that they are not dedicated revolutionaries. Third, the demands made by the occupants were unrealistic. Last--and most infuriating--the rejection of the proper channels of student participation is not only evidence of the occupants’ hatred of democracy, but of their recklessness and irrationality.
The first armchair critique is simply weird. A strong number of the students who were inside are spiraling deep into debt since the bank, and not their parents, pays their tuition. Others were only able to attend university because of good scholarship packages. If this is not good enough for those more concerned with identity than action, many of the organizers in the occupations were from low-income communities--a good portion of these were of color. But let us pretend that this is not a distraction and that all the students inside were tremendously privileged. Is there any substance to this point besides the understandable visceral reaction against people of privilege? Those who greatly benefit from the prevailing order are especially trained to wield its tools for self-advancement. This was precisely the opposite of what happened in the occupation, a decidedly anti-establishment action; those students of privilege had every reason to use the tools already in place as opposed to making their own. All that remains is the point that since they are privileged, they are not risking anything--they can always “call daddy.” If this is true--which it is not, since many students face suspension and others criminal charges--is the only solution for a privileged student whose blood boils for true justice to hang her head and pout, doing nothing in the face of a rotten institution? Anyone who is not hurling insults for its own sake can see the absurdity of this claim.
The second critique is connected to the first in that it questions the drive and seriousness of the occupants. There is a Christian ring to it: if you do an action that disrupts the normal flow of an institution, you should drop to your knees and accept your punishment or else self-flagellate because you have sinned--if we are even to accept that a righteous action is a sin! Punish me! the students should scream if they are committed enough. For those minimally concerned with winning a long struggle, why would you not build an exit strategy into a single action? When dealing with a private university whose administration is reluctant to involve the police for PR reasons, the amnesty demand becomes more relevant. Since the power of security guards is fragile at best, their bosses will be more likely to sue for peace and cave in.
The complaint against amnesty implies that the students were cowardly. No further reasons for this are issued because no facts support it. It is roundly untrue! When facing violent security guards, threatened expulsion, a pathetic food supply, dwindling energy, and the constantly stated assurance by the administration that if they just left all would be forgiven, the occupants held fast as one! Show me a mainstream journalist who dares suggest these students were cowards, and I will show you a face that belongs in the dictionary under “gutless”!
Two of the loftier demands: “That the university donate all excess supplies and materials in an effort to rebuild the University of Gaza; that NYU signs a contract guaranteeing fair labor practices for all NYU employees at home and abroad. This contract will extend to subcontracted workers, including bus drivers, food service employees and anyone involved in the construction, operation and maintenance at any of NYU's non-U.S. sites.”
The third cable’s lack of imagination is crippling and self-defeating. The Take Back NYU! demands were not at all in the ether, but again let us play with the critique by accepting its furrowed brows: Why not demand the moon? It is inspiring and empowering to aim for the intangible, working to bridge the impossible with the possible. An occupation itself is impossible. This is shown by the astounding amount of press that both occupations received when each lasted less than two days! An occupation, in challenging authorities in ways to which they are not accustomed--in ways which challenge their very existence--opens vistas previously unseen by the most astute activist. In the first night of both occupations, spirits and numbers were low. Defeat was painted on the walls. No one imagined the strength the next day would bring. For both, it brought more occupied space, incredible media coverage, large influxes of students, and solidarity protests and actions outside that shut down entire city blocks! What leverage might the day after that bring the next occupation? Personally, I am in favor of seeing an occupation as a victory in itself, perhaps not even making demands--instead listing grievances--as the collective attempts to expand the occupied space and reclaim it for grassroots power. But this is hardly a break from those who explode the possible through unrealistic demands.
Finally, the proper channels are those means by which subordinates are permitted to affect the general goings-on. Rationalized privilege, apathy and subjugation to custom aside, there is little doubt as to their true nature. In democracy, they are the brilliant constructions of those in power. All of these channels begin, end and course through the orifices of the ruling elite. They are co-optation manifest--genius because reform is indeed possible through them, but only reform which does not threaten or disrupt business as usual. These power-serving organs through which the lowly voice must be heard in order to be “democratic,” “moral” and “righteous” (according to the conventional wisdom) are, by definition, choked by the powers that grip them. Those who want total transformative change through these appropriate channels find their efforts so diluted and compromised that by the time victory is declared, either they themselves are at the helm of the same unjust order they were originally battling or else reviewing a list of accomplishments that are so watered down the ink displaying them has run and smeared unintelligibly across the paper.
“The majority” cited by the obedient as being alienated by direct action is a mere weapon of the status quo. In this vile social order, our senses are colonized by the fear (the hatred!) of thought and action that truly charts its own channels. Indeed, on a macro level, this explains why many who find little benefit in the preservation of the present order will be reluctant or even spiteful of those efforts that disregard the typical ruts.
When a movement questions the unquestionable, travels beyond the worn routes, then the subconscious and conscious--the deceived and sincere--preservers of the old order must rail: “Don’t alienate the majority! Don’t go too far! What about a broad base? What about the long arc of progress?” Some of these preservers might even masquerade as radicals.
It is necessary to clear the air of these typical pollutants, but it is also crucial to advance, just as in many ways the NYU occupation amplified the empowering echoes of the earlier one in The New School. The indifferent, the doubters, the seated radicals, the contented liberals, must be cast aside as we fearlessly charge for the unattainable horizon, revealing evermore humane, free, terrains of struggle.
The scene made my eyes glassy. Early in the second morning of the NYU occupation, hundreds of restive protestors in solidarity with those inside chanted, sang, danced, shouted, and, at the height of the chaotic crescendo, pressed against the barricades of the heavily armed NYPD--who were protecting the entrance to the building--in a brazen effort to join the occupation. Police batons cracked and pepper spray spewed in streams, but they were not deterred, continuing to push forward without deference for badges or titles. It wasn’t until the cops started arresting and violently wrenching protestors over the barricades that the crest was broken. When the crowd reverted to singing and dancing and simple mischief, you could see--feel!--their simmering power if you squinted hard enough.
We are the strengthening enemy of channeled order. We are the new ground that will allow an infinite diversity of pathways. We are building a revolutionary situation.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More NY Times coverage of the Take Back NYU Occupation!

February 19, 2009, 12:19 pm — Updated: 12:43 pm -->
Live on the Web, the N.Y.U. Occupation
By Colin Moynihan
Students at New York University barricaded themselves in a room in a school building on Wednesday night and then announced a list of demands that they said they wanted to present to school administrators.The action, organized by a student group called Take Back N.Y.U., began just before 10 p.m. in the John Ben Snow dining room on the third floor of the Kimmel Center, a modern building on Washington Square South that includes administration offices and a theater and is a hub of student activities. (See streaming video of the occupation.)
Students shoved a jumble of tables and chairs against two doors leading into the room then declared their sovereignty.
“We are the Take Back N.Y.U. campaign,” announced a young woman who stood on a table and spoke through a megaphone.
Around her, other students chanted: “Whose space? Our space.”
The takeover was reminiscent of a similar action that took place a few blocks away in December at the New School University, and indeed some of those at N.Y.U. said that the New School takeover –– which took place in a cafeteria and lasted about 30 hours –– was an inspiration.
Students at the New School at first called for the resignation of school officials, including the university’s president, Bob Kerrey, among other demands. Ultimately, they walked out of the cafeteria without resignations taking place, but with agreements from school officials to maintain study and library space and give students a greater voice in various school affairs..
The students at N.Y.U. established a Web site where they published their demands. (Charlie Eisenhood has also been blogging the occupation, with updates Thursday morning.)
The demands included a full and annual reporting of the university’s operating budget, expenditures and endowment. The students also demanded that the university provide 13 scholarships annually to students from the Gaza Strip and give surplus supplies to the Islamic University of Gaza.
The students also called upon the school to allow graduate teaching assistants to unionize and to freeze tuition, which students said could approach $50,000 annually, including room and board.
“We’re going to stay here until the administration agrees to meet with us,” said Farah Khimji, 20, a sophomore studying social and cultural analysis and anthropology.
The majority of he 70-odd students in the dining room said they went to the university. There were also students from other institutions, including the New School and Barnard.
Saher Almaita, 22, said he was a senior studying in philosophy at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J., and decided to show up at N.Y.U. out of a mixture of curiosity and sympathy.
“We’re so alienated from each other that the opportunity to do something together is a rush,” he said, adding, “I want to experience humanity to its fullest.”
On Wednesday night, Lynne Brown, the senior vice president for university relations, said that the gathering was peaceful and that administration officials would engage the students in a discussion to learn more about their aims.
Having secured the space, the students held meetings. They pledged not to damage property and discussed how to communicate with students outside the dining room. Police officers gathered outside the building. Security guards for the university stood near the dining room doors, allowing students access to and from nearby bathrooms.
The students helped themselves from a store of provisions they had brought, including apples, oranges, hummus and peanut butter. They brewed tea and drank coconut juice from cardboard containers. Some played cards or painted banners, with mottoes like “Make NYU Affordable.” Others read, chatted or gazed at computer screens.
As the late hours of the evening wore into the early hours of the next day, many students bundled themselves into blankets, sought out corners and stretched out to sleep. But others were too wound up to rest. Instead, some of them participated in an exercise session they called the “Calisthenic Dialectic Workout,” stretching and jumping in place for a while before adjourning for a discussion of Hegel that lasted nearly until daybreak.

Exiled in NYU: A communiqué from within the NYU occupation

At the dawn of the New School occupation last December, we wrote, “This is
only the beginning.”

We weren’t joking.

We are now occupying the halls of NYU alongside their students. With our
bodies and barricades, we continue to manifest ourselves as a force of
interruption against the enforced passivity of the university.

This occupation arises at a time of economic turmoil. The current crisis
of capital is no fluke; it is the result of the real social conditions in
which we live. NYU, one of the largest property owners in New York City,
is a clear perpetrator of the misery everyone now feels. It has no alibi,
only vulnerabilities.

From the insurrection in Greece to the revolts of Eastern Europe, from the
university occupations across England to the general uprising in Oakland,
something is in air. We can’t name it, but we can all feel it.
Uncompromising, our power is growing. What has started as a singular
strike against the structure of NYU’s form of domination will become a
strike against the general logic of domination.

When we occupy spaces and liberate their use, we appropriate for ourselves
the means of our very existence. We find each other here and now, in the
midst of conflict and crisis, overturning every role we’re given,
annulling every attempt to reconcile.

This is how we learn. This is how we fight.

In Exile,
Students of the New School
Feb 19th, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

First Press for Take Back NYU Occupation

Students Protest at N.Y.U.

Published: February 18, 2009

Several dozen students occupied a cafeteria at New York University on Wednesday night, barricading themselves inside with tables and chairs and chanting a list of demands.

The protest began shortly before 10 p.m. when about 70 students, most of them members of a student-run group called the Take Back N.Y.U. Campaign, gathered on the third floor of the Kimmel Student Center at Washington Square South and La Guardia Place.

The students pushed tables and chairs against the doors, and a woman with a megaphone outlined the group’s demands.

They included a full and annual reporting of the university’s operating budget, expenditures and endowment. The students also demanded that N.Y.U. provide 13 scholarships annually to students from the Gaza Strip and give surplus supplies to the Islamic University of Gaza. On the group’s Web site, it also asked that all participants in the protest be granted amnesty from punishment.

Take Back N.Y.U. has been a vocal presence on campus for the last few years, said Lynne Brown, the senior vice president for university relations. Ms. Brown said that she believed only about half of the protesters were from N.Y.U. and that the rest probably included students from the New School, which had its own student occupation in December during protests over the school’s embattled president, Bob Kerrey.

Ms. Brown said the university will allow the students to remain in the cafeteria through the night and will give them access to restrooms.

About an hour after the shut-in began, Ms. Brown described it as a “peaceful” yet perplexing gathering.

“We’ll be trying to clarify the exact nature of their complaints,” Ms. Brown said, “and try to engage them in colloquy and conversation. It’s a little unclear for us now.”

Colin Moynihan contributed reporting.

Rally for Take Back NYU Tomorrow @ 12 Noon!

Meet in front of the Kimmel Center for a Rally in Support of the Take Back NYU Occupation of the Kimmel Center on Washington Square South next to the Bobst Library!

See you there,
The New School In Exile

NYU's Kimmel Center is now Occupied!

At approximately 10pm this evening a group of students began an occupation of the NYU campus in the cafeteria of the Kimmel Center (next to Bobst library). The group, Take Back NYU has called for a solidarity rally outside to support their actions inside. They need supporters outside as well as people to spread the word far and wide. I will be posting video from the rally and statement of demands in the next hour on the web site, but in the meantime check out Here are their demands as listed on their web site:


We, the students of NYU, declare an occupation of this space. This occupation is the culmination of a two-year campaign by the Take Back NYU! coalition, and of campaigns from years past, in whose footsteps we follow.

In order to create a more accountable, democratic and socially responsible university, we demand the following:

  1. Full legal and disciplinary amnesty for all parties involved in the occupation.
  1. Full compensation for all employees whose jobs were disrupted during the course of the occupation.
  1. Public release of NYU’s annual operating budget, including a full list of university expenditures, salaries for all employees compensated on a semester or annual basis, funds allocated for staff wages, contracts to non-university organizations for university construction and services, financial aid data for each college, and money allocated to each college, department, and administrative unit of the university. Furthermore, this should include a full disclosure of the amount and sources of the university’s funding.
  1. Disclosure of NYU’s endowment holdings, investment strategy, projected endowment growth, and persons, corporations and firms involved in the investment of the university’s endowment funds. Additionally, we demand an endowment oversight body of students, faculty and staff who exercise shareholder proxy voting power for the university’s investments.
  1. That the NYU Administration agrees to resume negotiations with GSOC/UAW Local 2110 – the union for NYU graduate assistants, teaching assistants, and research assistants. That NYU publically affirm its commitment to respect all its workers, including student employees, by recognizing their right to form unions and to bargain collectively. That NYU publically affirm that it will recognize workers’ unions through majority card verification.
  1. That NYU signs a contract guaranteeing fair labor practices for all NYU employees at home and abroad. This contract will extend to subcontracted workers, including bus drivers, food service employees and anyone involved in the construction, operation and maintenance at any of NYU’s non-U.S. sites.
  1. The establishment of a student elected Socially Responsible Finance Committee. This Committee will have full power to vote on proxies, draft shareholder resolutions, screen all university investments, establish new programs that encourage social and environmental responsibility and override all financial decisions the committee deems socially irresponsible, including investment decisions. The committee will be composed of two subcommittees: one to assess the operating budget and one to assess the endowment holdings. Each committee will be composed of ten students democratically elected from the graduate and under-graduate student bodies. All committee decisions will be made a strict majority vote, and will be upheld by the university. All members of the Socially Responsible Finance Committee will sit on the board of trustees, and will have equal voting rights. All Socially Responsible Finance Committee and Trustee meetings shall be open to the public, and their minutes made accessible electronically through NYU’s website. Elections will be held the second Tuesday of every March beginning March 10th 2009, and meetings will be held biweekly beginning the week of March 30th 2009.
  1. That the first two orders of business of the Socially Responsible Finance committee will be:
    a) An in depth investigation of all investments in war and genocide profiteers, as well as companies profiting from the occupation of Palestinian territories.
    b) A reassessment of the recently lifted of the ban on Coca Cola products.
  1. That annual scholarships be provided for thirteen Palestinian students, starting with the 2009/2010 academic year. These scholarships will include funding for books, housing, meals and travel expenses.
  1. That the university donate all excess supplies and materials in an effort to rebuild the University of Gaza.
  1. Tuition stabilization for all students, beginning with the class of 2012. All students will pay their initial tuition rate throughout the course of their education at New York University. Tuition rates for each successive year will not exceed the rate of inflation, nor shall they exceed one percent. The university shall meet 100% of government-calculated student financial need.
  1. That student groups have priority when reserving space in the buildings owned or leased by New York University, including, and especially, the Kimmel Center.
  1. That the general public have access to Bobst Library.
A video of the reading of Take Back NYU's demands can be seen here:

In Solidarity,
The New School in Exile

Video of Thursday's Press conference!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Edinburgh University Occupation for Gaza

  1. BOYCOTT – That the university immediately suspend all contracts and relations with companies enabling the conflict and/or occupation, including Eden Springs. This demand is contingent on access to information to establish which other companies are implicated.
  1. DIVESTMENT – That the university divest from and cut all links – specifically on-campus recruitment – with BAE Systems, QinetiQ and all other “arms and defence” manufacturers whose products are proven to be in use by the Israeli military.
  1. SCHOLARSHIPS – That the university make full scholarships available to at least 5 students in Gaza, allowing them to attend Edinburgh University. This is a response to the destruction of their universities by the Israeli military, and to other barriers, physical and psychological, which restrict their right to education.
  1. AID – That the university collect and make available non-monetary donations to war-damaged Gazan schools and hospitals, including but not limited to text-books, chairs, computers.
  1. EDUCATION – That logistical and financial support are provided for a series of informative lectures and debates at Edinburgh, involving university staff and guest speakers, on the Palestine/Israel question during the academic year 2009/10.
  1. STUDENT SIT-IN – Lastly, we demand that no legal, financial or academic measures be taken against those participating in, or supporting, a peaceful sit-in to ensure our calls are answered. We call on the university to allow participants unrestricted access to food, water, toilets and people on the outside, including but not limited to fellow students, supporters and media representatives.

We have no intention of preventing, delaying or disrupting lectures. It is not our aim to alienate or create a polarization between the students and the university. There will be rallies and other activities throughout the sit-in, both inside and outside the building. We will endeavour to hold talks and debates, show documentaries and create solidarity artwork. We aim to create an open space, allowing for the constructive and creative spread of awareness on the Gaza conflict and continued oppression of Palestinians throughout the Occupied Territories.

Friends in Edinburgh, we salute you and your resolve!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

From the New York Times

New School Faculty and President Remain at Odds

Published: February 10, 2009

In the two months since Bob Kerrey, the president of the New School, received overwhelming votes of no-confidence from the university’s full-time faculty, he has met nonstop with deans, students, faculty members and trustees and has scheduled a series of dinners with small faculty groups to try to rebuild his support.

Bob Kerrey has been president of the New School since 2001.

But the efforts at reconciliation have apparently not gained much traction, as evidenced by a faculty meeting on Tuesday in which one professor asked the room: “How do we impeach the guy?”

The emergency faculty meeting had been called to “exchange ideas and voice concerns,” but it turned into a large venting session, with professors taking turns at the microphone denouncing everything from Mr. Kerrey’s search for a new provost to what some called his autocratic style.

In one resolution, passed by a unanimous voice vote, the faculty urged the deans of the Greenwich Village university’s eight divisions to “reach out to every trustee” and convey the “strong and continuing faculty sentiment of no confidence” in the university’s current non-academic leadership.

But faculty members acknowledge that they have limited power to force out Mr. Kerrey, a former Democratic governor and senator from Nebraska. The board of trustees holds that authority, and three trustees said privately after the meeting that Mr. Kerrey still enjoyed broad support on the 60-member board.

The revolt against Mr. Kerrey was touched off by the dismissal of a popular provost, Joseph W. Westphal, in early December. But faculty members also complained that Mr. Kerrey let fiscal considerations override academic ones and faulted him for high turnover at the university. There have been four provosts since Mr. Kerrey took over in 2001, with the last, Mr. Westphal, leaving after only a few months.

Mr. Kerrey and his supporters challenge the criticisms, pointing out that he has significantly raised both the endowment and enrollment and has made strides in getting the eight divisions to work together. He also pushed to extend tenure among the faculty and oversaw an increase in dormitory rooms.

In a statement Tuesday evening, Mr. Kerrey said that “substantial progress” had been made in “addressing legitimate concerns voiced by many New School faculty,” adding that the vote of no confidence had “brought up some necessary truths that we needed to address, and we are now addressing them.

“Real channels of communication have opened with faculty and students, beginning a dialogue that will continue in the weeks and months ahead,” the statement continued. “At the same time, my administration and the academic leadership are working together to keep the New School on a steady course in these difficult financial times and continue building on the improvements we have begun.”

James E. Miller, co-chairman of the Faculty Senate, opened the meeting on Monday with a recapping of events. “This was a devastating referendum,” he said, referring to the 271-to-8 vote of no-confidence in December, which was directed at both Mr. Kerrey and his executive vice president, James Murtha, the university’s chief financial officer.

“Even when faculties express a lack of confidence without such unanimity, boards of trustees usually have no choice but to respond, either by changing leadership or by reforming the structure of academic governance,” said Dr. Miller, a professor of political science. “This serves as a useful reminder of who our primary audience now is. It is the board of trustees.”

The trustees will hold a regular meeting on Wednesday, but no action is expected. Almost half the board was appointed by Mr. Kerrey, whose contract runs through 2011.

While the faculty reiterated its dissatisfaction with Mr. Kerrey at its meeting, some students were more aggressive. (In December, students staged a 30-hour sit-in at a campus building, calling for Mr. Kerrey’s ouster.)

At the faculty meeting, Geeti Das, a doctoral student at the New School for Social Research, a division of the New School, called on Mr. Kerrey to step down by April 1. “If on that date he has not resigned, we will shut down the functions of the university,” she said to applause. “We will bring it to a halt.”

The latest skirmish between the faculty and Mr. Kerrey concerns the search for an interim provost. A search committee of deans and faculty members has recommended an internal candidate. But it insisted that almost a dozen conditions, relating to the restructuring of the provost’s office, be met first.

Asked about the restructuring idea, a spokeswoman for the New School said, “Everything’s on the table.”

The committee also demanded that an interim provost serve for at least 18 months and that a search for a permanent provost not start until September.

In an e-mail message to the faculty, Mr. Kerrey rejected the idea of delaying the search for a permanent provost.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

From Where We Stand: A Statement from The New School in Exile

"This is the hour for the experiment; and New York is the place, because it is the greatest social science laboratory in the world and of its own force attracts scholars and leaders in educational work."
--New School founding text (1918)

The New School is now at a critical point. Our ability to do the very thing we came here to do—receive a quality education—is at risk. The obstacles we face as students are diverse and different based on our academic programs and departments, but we are united by the impacts of decisions made by the university. To resolve these diverse problems we must address the root causes, namely the guiding priorities and academic policies of this institution. Unfortunately, the administration has shown time and again that they are more interested in maintaining power than in open dialogue or serious structural change. The senior administration is no longer accountable to the students or faculty they are ostensibly here to serve. Because of this, we call for the immediate resignation of Bob Kerrey and James Murtha no later than April 1, 2009.

The struggle for an emancipatory education, and against the influences of subjugation and homogenizing tendencies in society writ large, is not new. Students all around the world are struggling with these same issues. We also recognize that this is part of a much larger struggle, one that has at its root the very understanding of what it is to be free. And as students we have an obligation, because of our privilege, to push the envelope and construct a new vision of how the world could be. Formerly our school was driven by calls for open deliberation, anti- authoritarianism and critical and direct engagement with social problems. Now—under the present leadership—decision-making is secretive and closed. Power is consolidated, abused and wielded as a weapon against academic inquiry and critical skepticism. Our “brand” is now more important than our ethics, and students have been reduced to economic units--like cogs in a
corporate machine.

We want an education that enriches our lives while challenging us to grow as both an academic community and as individuals. We want a university we can be proud of, where new theories and ways of being in the world are the very foundation of what we do. A school with a mission of engaged scholarship focused on solving real problems. We desire radical praxis--thought and action--not simply navel-gazing or status-quo reproduction. In short, we want our institution
to reclaim the critical and engaged tradition on which it was founded.

As faculty and students simultaneously rose up in opposition to the administration, the thinly constructed veneer of Kerrey's "success" as President was shattered. The more light we cast on the dark recesses of this administration, the more we see its ugly sides, its exposed myths, its abuses of power and outright lies. We have a Board of Trustees that is not accountable to the university community. Our student government bodies have negotiated with the administration
in good faith, only to find that decisions are made and promises broken from one semester to the next. Even a majority vote of no confidence by the faculty has no meaning or weight given to it by the administration. Long before the current recession, we have faced financial hardships. As students we are now worse off than ever when it comes to resources. Class offerings at the graduate and undergraduate level are shrinking and departments are stressed from bloated tuition and teacher shortages. Computers and printers are consistently broken or occupied.
There are major deficiencies in teaching and research opportunities for graduate students. Our library resources, if one can even speak of them, are an academic disgrace and virtually useless for serious research. Those of us attempting to receive an education and help support families have no opportunity on campus to earn enough to live even at the poverty line while our spouses and partners receive no health insurance from the school. Salaries for research assistants and student teachers have not been raised in over ten years. Our study space is essentially non- existent. Campus buildings are run in such a way that students often go elsewhere to actually study, yet our Graduate Faculty building--the building we fought for and occupied to keep as a student space, the building that was supposed to be closed and torn down--now sits open and off limits. Floor after floor of quiet study space where students could be working, meeting and studying is denied to us for no reason other than the administrative whims of Kerrey and Murtha. And we reject the continued harassment of students by university security-
-apparently taking their cues from James Murtha—acting as though they have carte blanche to intimidate, coerce and assault students.

The underlying forces that brought forth the occupation at the New School are still manifest, and our views on the crisis at our university are unchanged. We still call for the resignation of President Bob Kerrey and Executive Vice-President James Murtha. Both represent the way this administration has become out of touch with our academic, philosophic and political roots. The administration has been implicated in abuses of power great and small. President Bob Kerrey
oversaw the execution of civilians in the Vietnamese village of Thanh Phong, and continues to be a staunch supporter of the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. The Executive Vice President James Murtha acts like a petty dictator who prefers to threaten--and punish--those in the university who speak out against him or challenge his attempts to further consolidate power. The Board Treasurer Robert Millard presides over L-3 Communications, a corporation that is being sued for torture and human rights violations in Iraq and is one of the largest war profiteers in the nation. These are not men of honor or vision, and they are not appropriate leaders for the New School! To address these varied problems we will continue to apply pressure on the university administration until the April 1 deadline. We will continue to organize the New School community against the present administration while exposing their incompetence and their attempts to stifle criticism. But ultimately a line must be drawn in the sand, a point where we say, this far, and no further. That line is April 1. If, on that day, the current leadership remains in place, we will shut down the functions of the university. We will bring it to a halt. We will make it stop. Through our civil disobedience, we will reclaim the university as a center of academic and political action. In short, we will continue to struggle until we have restored the legacy and integrity of the New School!

--The New School In Exile