Nettime — Don't forget NYC: New School Students Announce Ultimatum and Action

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Don’t forget NYC: New School Students Announce Ultimatum and Action
Background –

“Although the meeting was intended as a forum for faculty members, a
student representative was allowed to briefly address the gathering. She
read from a prepared statement announcing that student activists were
calling for the resignation of Mr. Kerrey and the New School’s vice
president, James Murtha, by April 1. “If, on that day, the current
leadership remains in place, we will shut down the functions of the
university,” she said. “We will bring it to a halt. We will make it
stop.” The assembled faculty members warmly applauded her comments.”
Earlier post –


*York University – Toronto*
Four people were arrested during a march to Queen’s Park Tuesday where
supporters of striking York University staff gathered to
protest back-to-work legislation. […]
Bangladesh- Student protests
A Bangladeshi riot police officer subdues a student (C) with a baton during
a demonstration in Dhaka on January 27, 2009. At least 50 people including
policemen were injured as Jagannath University students clashed with police,
the violence sparked by a dispute over occupation of halls. Students allege
that local leaders and businessmen have taken over 12 halls outside the
campus. […]
Kenya teachers, gov’t, reach deal, call off strike:
Nearly a quarter of a million public school teachers in Kenya have ended at
strike after the government offered to more than double their pay over the
next three years, officials said Thursday. […]
1,000 Ariz. students protest budget cuts:
More than 1,000 students from Arizona state universities staged a protest at
the Capitol on Wednesday, calling for lawmakers to spare higher education
from draconian budget cuts. […]
From Where We Stand: A Statement from the New School in Exile
The New School is now at a critical point. Our ability to do the very
thing we came here to do—receive a quality education—is at risk. The
obstacles we face as students are diverse and different based on our
academic programs and departments, but we are united by the impacts of
decisions made by the university. To resolve these diverse problems we
must address the root causes, namely the guiding priorities and academic
policies of this institution. Unfortunately, the administration has
shown time and again that they are more interested in maintaining power
than in open dialogue or serious structural change. The senior
administration is no longer accountable to the students or faculty they
are ostensibly here to serve. Because of this, we call for the immediate
resignation of Bob Kerrey and James Murtha no later than April 1, 2009.
The struggle for an emancipatory education, and against the influences
of subjugation and homogenizing tendencies in society writ large, is not
new. Students all around the world are struggling with these same
issues. We also recognize that this is part of a much larger struggle,
one that has at its root the very understanding of what it is to be
free. And as students we have an obligation, because of our privilege,
to push the envelope and construct a new vision of how the world could
be. Formerly our school was driven by calls for open deliberation,
anti-authoritarianism and critical and direct engagement with social
problems. Now—under the present leadership—decision-making is secretive
and closed. Power is consolidated, abused and wielded as a weapon
against academic inquiry and critical skepticism. Our “brand” is now
more important than our ethics, and students have been reduced to
economic units–like cogs in a corporate machine. We want an education
that enriches our lives while challenging us to grow as both an academic
community and as individuals. We want a university we can be proud of,
where new theories and ways of being in the world are the very
foundation of what we do. A school with a mission of engaged scholarship
focused on solving real problems. We desire radical praxis–thought and
action–not simply navel-gazing or status-quo reproduction. In short, we
want our institution to reclaim the critical and engaged tradition on
which it was founded.
As faculty and students simultaneously rose up in opposition to the
administration, the thinly constructed veneer of Kerrey’s “success” as
President was shattered. The more light we cast on the dark recesses of
this administration, the
more we see its ugly sides, its exposed myths, its abuses of power and
outright lies. We have a Board of Trustees that is not accountable to
the university community. Our student government bodies have negotiated
with the administration in good faith, only to find that decisions are
made and promises broken from one semester to the next. Even a majority
vote of no confidence by the faculty has no meaning or weight given to
it by the administration.
Long before the current recession, we have faced financial hardships. As
students we are now worse off than ever when it comes to resources.
Class offerings at the graduate and undergraduate level are shrinking
and departments are stressed from bloated tuition and teacher shortages.
Computers and printers are consistently broken or occupied. There are
major deficiencies in teaching and research opportunities for graduate
students. Our library resources, if one can even speak of them, are an
academic disgrace and virtually useless for serious research. Those of
us attempting to receive an education and help support families have no
opportunity on campus to earn enough to live even at the poverty line
while our spouses and partners receive no health insurance from the
school. Salaries for research assistants and student teachers have not
been raised in over ten years.
Our study space is essentially non-existent. Campus buildings are run in
such a way that students often go elsewhere to actually study, yet our
Graduate Faculty building–the building we fought for and occupied to
keep as a student space, the building that was supposed to be closed and
torn down–now sits open and off limits. Floor after floor of quiet
study space where students could be working, meeting and studying is
denied to us for no reason other than the administrative whims of Kerrey
and Murtha. And we reject the continued harassment of students by
university security–apparently taking their cues from James
Murtha—acting as though they have carte blanche to intimidate, coerce
and assault students.
The underlying forces that brought forth the occupation at the New
School are still manifest, and our views on the crisis at our university
are unchanged. We still call for the resignation of President Bob Kerrey
and Executive Vice-President James Murtha. Both represent the way this
administration has become out of touch with our academic, philosophic
and political roots. The administration has been implicated in abuses of
power great and small. President Bob Kerrey oversaw the execution of
civilians in the Vietnamese village of Thanh Phong, and continues to be
a staunch supporter of the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. The
Executive Vice President James Murtha acts like a petty dictator who
prefers to threaten–and punish–those in the university who speak out
against him or challenge his attempts to further consolidate power. The
Board Treasurer Robert Millard presides over L-3 Communications, a
corporation that is being sued for torture and human rights violations
in Iraq and is one of the largest war profiteers in the nation. These
are not men of honor or vision, and they are not appropriate leaders for
the New School!
To address these varied problems we will continue to apply pressure on
the university administration until the April 1 deadline. We will
continue to organize the New School community against the present
administration while exposing their incompetence and their attempts to
stifle criticism. But ultimately a line must be drawn in the sand, a
point where we say, this far, and no further. That line is April 1. If,
on that day, the current leadership remains in place, we will shut down
the functions of the university. We will bring it to a halt. We will
make it stop. Through our civil disobedience, we will reclaim the
university as a center of academic and political action. In short, we
will continue to struggle until we have restored the legacy and
integrity of the New School!
–The New School In Exile