The New School in Exile

3119830190_5d88acf9c1_bIt seems that the students over at The New School are taking this whole “change” thing pretty effing literally.

Students have occupied part of the campus in what was initially, and still for the most part is, a peaceful protest of the administration of their school.  It seems they are very nonplussed at the idea of having an outspoken, vocal supporter of the Iraq war as their President (join the club kids) and are hellbent to force him out.

While the sit-in, which has been ongoing for two days now, refuses to disperse, police are obviously keeping anyone else from going in so a spontaneous protest has spilled out onto the streets outside the building being occupied.

The students have released a list of demands which includes, “The removal of Bob Kerrey as president of our university” and “The removal of James Murtha as executive vice president of our university”, among many other things.  Most of which involve having the students, faculty and staff being more involved in virtually every aspect of the school’s decision making process.

What began as a placid protest with the tacit permission of university officials became chaotic shortly after 10 a.m. as the students tried to expand their occupation to other areas of the building at 65 Fifth Avenue, just south of 14th Street, which includes administrative offices. City police officers removed some students from the building, and students rolled metal Dumpsters into the hall to block the police, who eventually moved back outside. The police said one person was arrested for disorderly conduct.

Mr. Kerrey, the former governor and United States senator from Nebraska who was given an overwhelming vote of no confidence from the university’s faculty this week, showed up at 11:30 a.m. asking to address the dissident students, but they voted not to hear him out.

The demonstration began Wednesday evening in the ground-floor cafeteria, with about 50 students staying overnight citing a list of grievances with the Kerrey administration, dating back to his early support of the Iraq war. They adopted a list of eight demands including a greater student voice in university affairs and the resignations of Mr. Kerrey; James Murtha, the executive vice president; and Robert Millard, treasurer of the board of trustees, who students said was connected to a private security firm working in Iraq.

“Once the faculty vote came out, we thought now is the time,” said Jacob Blumfeld, a graduate student in philosophy.

On Wednesday night, the students pushed wooden tables against the cafeteria’s front door and blocked a rear corridor to the street with heavy recycling bins. Marcus Michelson, also a graduate student in philosophy, said the sit-in was meant to show that the students were serious about having a seat at the negotiating able. “This is about starting a dialogue, and to do that you have to be seen as an equal,” he said. “People just don’t give equality, you have to take it.”

The revolution is being blogged: New School in Exile.  This could very well have a tremendous effect on universities across the country.  If this indeed works, students actively forcing the President of a University to resign, it will be, at the very least an eye opening milestone of the realization as to the powers of solidarity and protest.

NYC is under a winter weather advisory tomorrow and expecting 3-5″ of snow according to weather reports.  That will be the true test of their resolve.

Photo courtesy of Devo in Regress/Flickr


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