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.