The New School Radical Student Union

is a union of radical students at the New School University in New York City. We are interested in communicating with other students committed to building a democratic and just society. We are a member organization of United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) and the Student Environmental Action Coalition. Please click here to read our Points of Unity.

It's Not Over Yet!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hello everyone! It's great that we won several demands and I hope to see everyone at the post-occupation party tonight in Bushwick.

However, over break we need to begin preparing to mobilize a larger section of the faculty and student body to hold the administration accountable to the demands they agreed to and to pressure the administration to meet the rest of our demands. Kerrey and Murtha are still in power, our university has still not agreed to disclose its investments, Millard - a war profiteer - is still the treasurer of our university, capital improvements are still going through as our education becomes increasingly expensive and loans become harder to obtain, students continue to lack adequate academic and social space, and we still lack adequate decision-making power within the institution.

Y'all are amazing and we should be proud of our victory - let's celebrate, but we cannot lose sight of our larger goals. Whatever it takes: education, demonstrations, occupations, or strikes. WE WILL WIN!


The Occupation Expands To All Of 65 Fifth Ave.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's 9am, and we've been here for over 14 hours.

The entire GF building is closed.

We took the cafeteria around 7pm last night, and we have held it.

20 minutes ago, the administration told the security guards to lock down the entire building.

Students who have to get in the building - to study, take finals, meet with professors, go to the cashier or registrar - they're going to suffer.

Don't blame us. We took over the cafeteria with the very clear goal of reclaiming student space. Space to study, to hold events, to share with our fellow students. Space to be students.

Space that will soon be gone.

The New School's president, Bob Kerrey, wants to tear down the GF. Asbestos removal is scheduled for next week. The building has been near-empty all semester. Meanwhile, there is virtually no common study space - certainly not enough for over 9000 students. We have no library. Only 10% of the book collection is actually on the stacks at Fogelman library - everything we need is in storage, and the new library will not be built this year. The money has run out. Students priorities have been put last.

Who did this? Bob Kerrey and his administration.

What does Kerrey want to replace the GF with? A building that he and his administration have designed and planned and replanned and made sure that no students, no faculty, no staff - none of the people who will use the building or be affected by what it does or doesn't include - have had any input or review or oversight of whatsoever. The building and the grounds of 65 5th ave were bequeathed by Vera List to the New School for Social Research, and it has carried it's name - the Graduate Faculty - ever since. True, the "new building" at 6 E. 16th st. has the name "Albert and Vera List Academic Center", and it does have some NSSR departments - but this is not the building Vera List donated to the graduate faculty and students. How many times has the name of the New School been changed? Was this a ploy to remove the requirement that 65 5th ave be the grounds for NSSR as per Vera List's donation, and was it even legal? How many times and in how many ways has Leah Gartner (head of Grounds and Buildings) prevented students from having any input on the process of their own building? How many of us are happy with the job she did with squeezing 6 graduate departments into 4 floors of 6 E. 16th, shared with Parsons classes and Global Finance trading labs (now mostly empty), while there are 3 floors with spacious administrative offices above? When undergrads at Lang don't have anything in their own building beyond a cafe to use for common space? When the GF has only a cafeteria and a reading room that will soon be demolished - with monies taken out away from student and academic programming?

If you think student space issues are anomalies of an otherwise harmonious Kerrey administration, think again. For nearly 8 years, we've had 5 provost changes. The lead academic officer of the university is replaced each time Kerrey's yes-man has not been up to snuff. Meanwhile departments can't hire new faculty, offer the courses graduates need, or do any kind of long-term strategic planning. Sociology has 2 faculty on over 80 dissertation committees. The teaching and research fellowships for graduate students are the lowest in the nation. The investments of the New School are managed by Robert Millard, on the board of L3 Communications, and managing director of its parent company Lehman Brothers - at least until it wasn't bailed out. We don't even know how Millard's mismanagement of the university's endowment has affected the long term security of the endowment. The operating budget of the university - over 80% of which is made up of tuition and student fees - is tightly controlled by the shadowy JIm Murtha - who announced upon taking the post of Chief Financial Officer that he would never meet with students, and he hasn't. We have an administrative bureaucracy as large as that of the University of Chicago - over 4 times our size - and most of these people have been chosen by Kerrey and are paid in six figures. Yet Kerrey announced an immediate spending freeze for department and student group programs - cheap corporate skimming while wine and shrimp are hors d'oeurves enough for 500 people are splurged on for the 75 people who attended Kerrey's "Free Inquiry at Risk" conference.

The New School needs a change, and we're developing proactive plans for broad institutional changes that not only make decision-making democratic and accountable to the students, faculty, and staff that actually run and use the university for its intended purpose - a different sort of academy. One that lives up to the ideals that Beard and Dewey and Johnson and other founders intended for truly free inquiry not mired by rampant militarism and profiteering. One that does not shame and brand "the university in exile" into a business model squeezes out students and basic academic priorities.

There's a change gonna come. We are here. Now. Making it happen.

Radical Student Union


An Open Letter: Come Occupy With Us…Now!

Dear Friends,

We are writing to you from the inside of the New School Graduate Faculty Building on 65 5th Ave.  We are occupying it. Right now. Literally.

Students of the New School University, along with our partners from other universities and groups – like NYU, Hunter College, City College of NY, CUNY Graduate Center, and Borough of Manhattan Community College, have organically risen up to demand the resignation of President Bob Kerrey, Executive Vice President Jim Murtha, and Board Member/torturer Robert B. Millard (he multi-tasks). We have come together to prevent our study spaces from being flattened by corporate bulldozers, to have a say in who runs this school, to demand that the money we spend on this institution be used to facilitate the creation of a better society, not to build bigger buildings or invest in companies that make war. We have come here not only to make demands, but to live them. Our presence makes it clear that this school is ours. And yours, if you are with us.

The outside doors have been closed now, so we can't exactly invite you in…sorry… We know you wanted a piece of the action, but we'll be around for quite some time. Join us at 7 AM tomorrow when the doors open again, or come now to stand outside with a sign in solidarity. You are cordially invited to join us in any way you can. We are not going anywhere. In the meantime, check out our website: We have all night to make things interesting, and the website will continue to be updated. Stay tuned for the musical pieces, doctoral dissertations, and creative finger-paintings that seem to be the natural result of 150 students locked into a building together for a night.

We are here, making decisions collectively, doing teach-ins, listening to music, studying, singing. We've got an upright bassist, guitarists and vocalists (If anyone can volunteer a drum-set we'll be well on our way…). We'll be here until this university changes, or until the party gets boring (but it doesn't seem likely that will happen). We're not going anywhere. We hope to see you soon, and if you really can't wait a few hours – what the hell – occupy your own universities or work spaces. 

Come use your voice to declare loudly that this school and this world are yours. Come use your mind to think up a better world. Come use your body to create it, one all-nighter in the university cafeteria at a time. Come stand in solidarity with the students, faculty, and staff of this university. Come to write letters of condolences to the people of the village Thanh Phong whose parents were murdered by the current President of the New School during his service in Vietnam. Come join the struggle with the people of Iraq who are being tortured and killed by a company funded by this university and represented on the New School Board of Trustees. Come here to join the uprisings and outpouring of passionate resistance currently taking place all over this country, and all over the worlds – from factory workers in Chicago to students in Greece. Come for yourself. Come for all of us.

In solidarity,

The New School in Exile


Statement Of Solidarity With The People Of Iraq, Afghanistan, And Palestine

Members of the New School University occupying 65 Fifth Ave, New York, NY, USA, stand in solidarity with the people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine. We stand in direct opposition to the wars and occupations perpetrated by the U.S. government, private military contractors, and their proxy forces. As members of New School University, we actively oppose the war-profiteer, L-3 Communications, Robert B. Millard, the treasurer of our board of trustees. We demand he be removed from his position at our university and that colleges and universities across the U.S. divest from any and all war-profiteers as part of the process of ending these occupations. We demand an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. We oppose Israel's occupation of Palestine and demand its immediate end. We call upon colleges and universities from across the U.S. to divest from any corporation providing military equipment to Israel as well.


Statement On The Occupation Of The New School

Dear New School Community,

As you may well know, the Radical Student Union (SDS, SEAC, UFPJ) organized a demonstration and sit-in at the Board of Trustees' meeting last Wednesday, December 10th. Initially this demonstration was planned around our own issues with the Board regarding Robert B. Millard and his role as treasurer, yet after distributing flyers and vocalizing our disputes with Millard the end result was over 60 students who came to not only protest Millard, but Bob Kerrey as well. Upon hearing the faculty vote, we tailored our demonstration in solidarity with the faculty concerns as we saw an appropriate connection.

We strongly support their vote of No Confidence in President Bob Kerrey and Executive Vice-President James Murtha. They have systematically denied our rights as students to have any say in our own education. This is but one area in which their attempts to control and shape all aspects of the University in their own interest has stifled cooperation, democracy, and self-governance at the New School.

Can students honestly say that we want Bob Kerrey to be the president of this university when we are given no choice but to force him to simply hear our concerns, which he continually refuses to do? Should we not have a president who is democratically accountable to everyone in the university, who represents the interests of those whose efforts make this university run on a day-to-day basis? What trust can we have for an administration and board that not only supports him lock-step, but has the audacity to assert that our concern with their role in the university is simply "misplaced anxiety over the state of the economy"?

Our country is indeed in a severe economic crisis -- and meanwhile the costly occupation of Iraq, an unpopular and illegal war, rages on. The people of this country have chosen President Elect Barack Obama because he said he stands for hope and change in these times of need. Do we want a university president who not only believes that democracy can be militarily imposed on another nation, but also believes that he is accountable to no one when imposing his will on the academic curriculum, despite the fact that this university was founded in opposition to war and the strain it always puts on the academy? If he believes in democracy, then why does he maintain a Presidential autocracy? Why did he organize a conference on "Free Inquiry At Risk: Universities in Dangerous Times" when he has proven himself to be the biggest threat to our university? Does Kerrey not remember that the New School was founded as the University of Exile, and posed as a haven for radical academics and activists who had to literally escape the possibility of death in Europe? We need a university president who can work to build solutions during these times of need, not one who is part of the problem. We need to make this university into a symbol of change for a world desperately in need of substance, and not just a brand created by the Offices of Finance & Business and Communications & External Affairs.

We in the Radical Student Union believe in a democratic university where we have a say in university decisions in proportion to the degree we are affected by their outcomes. As such, we believe deans, faculty, and students should not be denied the right to be involved in the decision-making processes that Kerrey and Murtha consistently keep us out of. We have the right to voice our opinions in regards to the future of this university and how it could be run under such freedoms.

If the faculty chooses to continue its efforts, they have the full and active support of the Radical Student Union. We have come together and have formulated a plan of action to build a more democratic university throughout the spring. Removing Kerrey and Murtha is a central concern. We will also continue to pursue Millard's removal, transparency and accountability for the general budget and the endowment, and the creation of a committee on Socially Responsible Investment and University Self-Management. All of this is detailed in our booklet: "The Project for a Socially Responsible University."

What We Want:

1. The removal of Bob Kerrey as president of our university.

2. The removal of James Murtha as executive vice president of our university.

3. Students, faculty, and staff elect the president, EVP, and Provost.
Students are part of the interim committee to hire a provost.

4. The removal of Robert B. Millard as treasurer of the board of trustees.

5. Intelligible transparency and disclosure of the university budget and investments.
The creation of a committee on socially responsible investments.

6. The immediate suspension of capital improvement projects like the tearing down of 65 fifth Ave.

- Instead, money towards the creation of an autonomous student space.

Instead, money towards scholarships and reducing tuition.

- Instead, money for the library and student life generally.


Points Of Unity

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Below are the Radical Student Union's points of unity. There are a number of theorists and organizations* that inspired this document and we are grateful for their contributions to its development.

1. Our goal is to build a movement for social revolution. By social revolution, we mean a fundamental transformation in the defining values and institutions of the various spheres of social life (kinship, community, economy, polity, international relations).

2. We live in a patriarchal society. By patriarchy, we mean a system of male supremacy encompassing the whole set of unequal man-woman relationships that are found in the family, the workplace, the state, and the dominant religious and cultural institutions of all contemporary societies.

3. We reject patriarchy and seek to build feminist kinship relations to free people from oppressive and narrowly defined roles that have been socially imposed, to abolish the sexual division of labor, and to end the sexist and heterosexist demarcation of individuals according to gender and sexuality. Society must be respectful of an individual’s nature, inclinations, and choices and all people must be provided with the means to pursue the lives they want regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or age.

4. A feminist society would provide the means for the flourishing of traditional couples, single parents, lesbian and gay parents; communal parenting; and multiple parenting arrangements. The task of raising children must be elevated in status, highly personalized interaction between children and adults should be encouraged, and responsibilities for these interactions must be distributed equitably throughout society without segregating tasks by gender.

5. Central to the creation of a feminist society is reproductive freedom – the freedom to have children without fear of sterilization or economic deprivation, and the freedom not to have children through unhindered access to birth control and abortion.

6. We live in a white supremacist society. By white supremacy, we mean the domination of oppressed peoples (Blacks, Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Latinos, Asians, Arabs, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans) based on their national or ethnic origin by a white power structure in which whites are given material, social, and psychological privileges.

7. The racial distinctions created by white supremacy are not actual biological divisions within humanity but are social constructions created to divide humanity and maintain the totality of oppressive social relations.

8. We reject white supremacy and seek to construct a new historical legacy based on positive inter-community relations by providing oppressed communities with the means to assure the preservation of their diverse cultural traditions and to allow for their continual development. All material and psychological privileges that are currently granted to a section of the population at the expense of the dignity and standards of living for oppressed communities, as well as the division of communities into subservient positions according to culture, ethnicity, nationality, and religion, must come to an end.

9. We live in a capitalist society. By capitalism, we mean an economic system characterized by the private ownership of the means of production (the means by which we produce the goods and services that society depends on), market allocation, and a corporate division of labor. The system of private ownership results in class stratification between those who own productive property and those who do not (who must sell their labor power in return for wages). The corporate division of labor creates a class division between workers who monopolize empowering work and decision-making power, and workers who perform primarily rote and labor-intensive work and have little control of the decisions that affect their lives. Markets misprice goods, misallocate resources, and foster anti-social competitiveness and individualism among both producers and consumers. Capitalism results in the oppression and exploitation of the vast majority of the global population, forcing them into a life of poverty and destitution for the heinous and unceasing lust for profits. It destroys our natural environment and places the interests of profit above the survival of humanity and the planet as a whole.

10. We reject the capitalist economic system and seek to replace it with a classless economic system defined by the social ownership of the means of production, a balanced division of labor in which workers perform a mix of manual and conceptual labor, a system of decentralized economic planning, and environmental sustainability.

11. We live under an authoritarian and bureaucratic state. By authoritarian and bureaucratic state, we mean a system of government that operates above and alienated from the people, using its monopoly on coercive force (police, military, courts, prisons) to defend property, profit, and power for the few at the expense of the many. Above all else, this state places its own survival above that of the interests of civilization and the planet.

12. We reject the authoritarian and bureaucratic state and seek to replace it with a participatory democracy, a polity where every individual directly shares in making the decisions that determine the quality and direction of both the individual’s life and that of their community. This polity should function according to the norm of self-management, where individuals have decision-making power in proportion to the degree they are affected by the decision.

13. We live under a system of imperialism. By imperialism, we mean the policy, practice, or advocacy of extending the power and dominion of a nation, especially by direct territorial acquisitions or by gaining indirect control over the political or economic life of other areas. Broadly, imperialism means the extension or imposition of a nation’s power, authority, or influence.

14. Imperialism in the current period is characterized by a polarization of wealth and power between a few rich controlling “centers” (the United States, Western Europe, and Japan) and the impoverished “periphery” of the Global South (the Third World). The wealth in one pole is directly connected with the abject poverty and misery of the other; the human and natural resources of the Global South have been ruthlessly exploited to build up the developed economies. Imperialism speaks most directly to the oppression of three-quarters of humankind.

15. We reject imperialism and support the right of nations to self-determination. We believe that people everywhere should have control over their government, natural resources, economic system, and culture. National liberation struggles in the Global South are fought to remove oppressed peoples from the shackles of imperialism – such struggles have historically been, and will continue to be, crucial to the defeat of the imperialist system.

*In particular, we'd like to thank Samir Amin, Bell Hooks, Lydia Sargent, Chris Spannos, Michael Albert, Robin Hahnel, Noam Chomsky, and the Fire By Night Organizing Committee for their theoretical contributions.


Press Release: New School Students Bored Of Trustees

NEW YORK (RSU) — On Wednesday The New School’s Radical Student Union, along with members of the War Resisters League, held a demonstration to demand university investment disclosure. The students also demanded the implementation of a committee on socially responsible investment and removal of the treasurer of the Board of Trustees, Robert B. Millard. The demonstration started at the headquarters of L-3 Communications, located at 600 3rd Avenue, and ended at the New School’s Arnhold Hall at 55 W. 13th Street where the Board of Trustees was having their last meeting of the semester. At about 5 p.m., after the students’ request to present their demands to the Board of Trustees was denied, the protest became an impromptu sit-in. Approximately 60 students entered the building and filled the lobby, demanding their requests be met.

Students were protesting the 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. L-3 Communications provides a large percentage of the “intelligence personnel” employed in illegal detention centers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, and is currently facing four lawsuits from Iraqis tortured at Abu Ghraib. An L-3 subsidiary, Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI), armed and trained both sides during the Bosnian conflict in the 1990s and armed and trained the Georgian army prior to and during their attack on Russia.

Last semester, the RSU brought these demands to the attention of the university’s president, Bob Kerrey, when they held a demonstration against L-3 and Millard and attempted to attend a Board of Trustees meeting. At the demonstration they were granted a meeting with Kerrey - it was here where they first brought their research and demands around investment disclosure, Millard, and the Socially Responsible Investment committee (SRI) to the attention of the President. However, Kerrey refused to disclose the university’s investments to them or anyone else and made it perfectly clear that he had no intention of ever letting students know what the university is invested in. He also made it clear that he had no intention of ever letting students sit as voting members of the board of trustees. The Radical Student Union believes this denies students an important right to have a say in their own education. Kerrey hosted a conference on “Free Inquiry” and threats to academic freedom in late October. Ironically, many students see him as the biggest obstacle to the free inquiry of students who care about the future of their university.

The students participating in the sit-in remained patient and nonconfrontational as they waited to see if the Board would grant their requests. Other students brought pizza and coffee to those participating in the sit-in. After about an hour, students realized the Board was not going to meet with them and they pushed into the blocked off area, passed the security guards and attempted to climb the stairs that led to where the Board was meeting. The security guards prevented the students from entering the meeting and the students began to lead chants around investment disclosure and the removal of Millard. The meeting, which was happening directly above where the students were chanting, was forced to move because of the demonstrators. The trustees’ coats and personal items at the coat check near the assembled students were passed up one by one to a staff member on the stairs. The students moved outside around 6:30 p.m. when they realized a car was waiting at the basement exit of the building. The group disbanded around 7 p.m. - after most of the Trustees had left the hall. A security guard informed one RSU member that the Board of Trustees meeting, which was scheduled to end at 8 p.m., had ended an hour and a half early, at 6:30 p.m.

“On the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the university choose to hide itself instead of being accountable and open about its connections to human rights violating corporations like L-3,” said Slim Lopez, RSU member and University Student Senate Representative. “The New School markets itself on being a “progressive” institution with a commitment to social justice - yet its Board of Trustees includes members who are in direct opposition to this mission,” he said.

“The fact that the board of trustees had to sneak out of the freight door entrance instead of talking to the students is very telling of their need to keep students out of the decision making procedures of the university,” said University Student Senate representative and RSU member Kate Griffin. “They know they are in the wrong and they know our demands are legitimate,” she said.

“The demonstration today has proven that students in the United States are not passive and apathetic. The students at the New School will be an example to both public and private universities, city and nationwide, who demand legitimate decision making power in the management of their schools,” said RSU member Ronnie Almonte.

The proposed Committee on Socially Responsible Investing and University Self-Management would allow students, faculty, staff, and alumni to oversee the university trustees’ investment decisions and make sure that the university’s investments are in alignment with the ethical and social values of the New School. The committee would make decisions regarding whether or not an outside corporation meets the ethical criteria required for a contract with the University.