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Student takeover at NYU


Any NY readers want to post?

Not real clear on the demands, but I like the firm commitment to non-violence. Don't know if it's silly, or sweet, or great, or what, but it's another straw in the wind, isn't it?

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chezmadame's picture
Submitted by chezmadame on

They have have two sets of demands (general demands and occupation demands).

I went to NYU in the 70's when a state funded scholarship of $1000/yr (which NYU matched) paid full tuition and covered the cost of my books.

I was a commuter, so I did have to cough up the nickel that the Staten Island ferry cost, but I only had to pay one way.

chezmadame's picture
Submitted by chezmadame on

for the monkey cartoon.

Second story is the windy weather.

Third story is a suspicious fire that killed three people (a mother and two children).

Fifth story...NYU

A protestor was interviewed, and she said scare tactics will not work!
One of the scare tactics threatened:
Calling their parents!

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

Kimmel, is the location of student clubs, and has theatres and such.

As a site to occupy, it's not such a great choice in terms of impact.

I'm disappointed, after perusing the website together with my son (we both have degrees of one sort or another from the place). I was hoping for something better thought-out, better focused. Hope always lets me down, dagnabbit!

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

Here are the short-term demands of the occupation according to their site:

# Full compensation for all employees whose jobs were disrupted during the course of the occupation.
# Public release of NYU’s annual budget and endowment.
# Allow student workers (including T.A.’s) to collectively bargain.
# A fair labor contract for all NYU employees at home and abroad.
# A Socially Responsible Finance Committee that will immediately investigate war profiteers and the lifting of the Coke ban.
# Annual scholarships be provided for thirteen Palestinian students.
# That the university donates all excess supplies and materials in an effort to rebuild the University of Gaza.
# Tuition stabilization for all students, beginning with the class of 2012. Tuition rates for each successive year will not exceed the rate of inflation. The university shall meet 100% of government-calculated student financial need.
# That student groups have priority when reserving space in the buildings owned or leased by New York University, including, and especially, the Kimmel Center.
# That the general public have access to Bobst Library.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

rather than protect a right:

The Take Back NYU! campaign has been a constant presence on campus for two years, attempting to voice their demands through all means available.

Their demands, though many and varied, are united by the desire to empower students to take part in the governance of their University.

More than a couple of demands is always a mistake, in terms of tactics. If inherent rights are being violated, that shouldn't be difficult. At the least, an actual list should be made widely available; the days of nailing demands to the church door are long past.

NYU is a private university. I'm not sure I understand what right the students have to assert in terms of managing the enterprise. That goal strikes me as being like the customers of a cafe demanding the right to participate in running the restaurant.

One demand appears to be disclosure of the University's investment portfolio. I don't understand how anyone feels the right to invade privacy - mine or NYU's. Anyone have any idea what the other issues are, or an argument logically supporting any of them, I'd be curious.

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

For example, the graduate teaching assistants won union representation but then had it taken from them by a decision of the (Bush-stocked) NLRB. NYU could choose to recognize the union even though not required to do so, but (of course) they do not.

Some of the demands are just bizarre, such as asking that the Bobst library be open to the public. CUNY's libraries are not open to the public, and it's a public university.

I could go down the list, but I'm too tired to see straight right now.

Short take: It's a mish-mosh. As I said, I'm disappointed.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

so a strike would make sense in support. Every workplace should be free and open to organizing and election for union representation. The rest, a little shaky, and dilutes the focus away from that one fair complaint.

chezmadame's picture
Submitted by chezmadame on

goes way back.

I went to grad school at Rutgers (1977) rather than NYU because Rutgers offered me an assistantship which generally included tuition remission.
The union fight was going on back then at both institutions.

To be frank, I remember the tuition remission and the opportunity to get teaching experience (and some chops for my resume) to be more important than the salary.

Still, I don't envy the NYU grad teaching assistants who have to try to live in NYC on the salary they're paid.

I don't think that opening private research libraries to the general public is good policy, especially in a city that boasts one of the best public library systems in the world.

I t kinda bothers me that the first question addressed in the Take Back NYU! FAQs concerns the exclamation point in their name. Another answer to an FAQ conflates private and public institutions.

chezmadame's picture
Submitted by chezmadame on

to sell off part of its legacy to SUNY, including its University Heights campus which is now part of Bronx Community College.

NYU wanted to rebuild on the site of the Edgar Allen Poe house back then and never gave up the fight.

In addition, NYU decided to stop offering the Ph.D. in philosophy because the program cost more than it brought in.

The university president responsible for these decisions left NYU in 1977 for a position at the American University in Japan.

I'll never forget the headline in the student newspaper when the news was announced:


a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

by this student takeover...

I'm a wee bit too young to have participated in the occupations of college buildings in the 60s, but I did (as a faculty member) play a part in the 1991 occupations which shut down several branches of CUNY. I was then teaching at Hostos Community College, probably the most militant of the campuses as far as the students (and faculty) went. The students occupied the "500 building" (500 Grand Concourse, at that time our main classroom and administration building - we were teaching in trailers while our new campus was being constructed.) In other words, they shut down the fracking school. None of this "occupy the cafeteria" nonsense. It was pretty tense. We were out for two weeks, as I recall. Well, the concerned faculty met every day to discuss the goings-on, and to listen when the student leaders came out to speak movingly about what this education meant to them and how hard it would be for them to continue if the proposed tuition increases were put in place, and the effect of other budget cuts. (At that time we still used mimeograph machines, and we had to buy our own paper and even stencils at one point, as the budget cuts made it impossible for the college to buy new supplies.)

Not everyone agreed that closing down the school was the right tactic. In particular, it caused difficulties for students who had jobs starting at the end of the semester (we had to extend the semester to make up the lost days) - adjunct faculty with summer jobs were also affected. But it certainly was an amazing thing to live through - and I think that the point was made.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

I don't want to be too harsh on these young people. Clearly they feel agrieved, and at least the one issue of unionization is rational and proper. That they've taken the initiative to act on their beliefs rather than talk-talk endlessly is, generally speaking, a good thing. Sometimes nothing but establishing a physical presence will do, and in my view we could do with a whole lot more sit-ins and demonstrations. Props for taking action when only action will suffice.

The lack of focus is a problem, as is the calling for an administrative role for students in a private institution. As well, the takeover of a social building rather than a core administrative site - shutting down the school - was a tactical error.

C- I guess, for effort; not an F.

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

But, just in case it's not clear:

I think it is not unreasonable to ask for a student or two on the Board of Trustees. My own undergraduate institution has such a thing.

NYU has in the past (as I have reason to know) been arrogant and failed to listen, pretty much as a pattern. That doesn't mean that each and every thing the NYU administration does is by definition a bad thing.

If these students would educate themselves on the issues, they would be more effective advocates, is my take.

In particular, the issue of why tuition goes up at a rate faster than the rate of inflation. Scienceblogger Chad Orzel has discussed it here. It is, unfortunately, not an issue that lends itself to easy analysis. NYU is nothing special in this regard, in fact, they have made attempts to attract students they want. As has every college not brain-dead.

I'm not saying that the protesters have no points: I'm saying that they should have done their homework.