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.

1 comment:

  1. General Strike! What a dadaist shit storm of exile this is. More rich kids occupying buildings built by the bourgeoisie to reproduce more rich kids. The freaking upper classes have gone bonkers! Rosa, pass the absinthe.