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.

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