Was dope as fuck. Great turnout, lots of fun despite a few sound hiccups.
Check the TBNYU! blog for a word from the folks who made it happen.
And, a shoutout:
Was dope as fuck. Great turnout, lots of fun despite a few sound hiccups.
Check the TBNYU! blog for a word from the folks who made it happen.
And, a shoutout:
Ok, I know I got a little bit too aggressive about defending Bobst-space before – I was mostly writing in jest. Mostly.
What isn’t a joke, or in jest, is the Bobst Study Breakdown – it seems a bunch of folks will be getting down in the library come Thursday night at 8pm, turning the dreary life under the fluorescent lights into a dance party. Take Back NYU!’s blog points out that the event echoes the 60s Freak-Ins that reclaimed university space for students – I hope the Breakdown signals a start of a new tradition of regular dance parties in our fine red library.
So: this Thursday at 8, remember to take a study break to get down in Bobst.
EDIT: That link I posted earlier broke. This is most definitely still going down though.
Second EDIT: Check the Twitter.
During finals, I’ve noticed a severe rise in space-related frustration among NYU students. Suddenly, folks rediscovered work ethic, and are taking it out on the NYU library, which remains packed nearly around the clock.
Here’s some recommendations on how to keep the crunch to a minimum. The real key is to target imposters – you can generally spot the people who only study in the week before finals by their array of coffees and energy drinks (as if getting strung out on caffeine for a week or so could make up for a semester spent with dull amusements instead of thinking), as well as their self-satisfaction with actually being in the library. While I don’t believe uppers and smugness are problems in and of themselves, there are other things which are.
I believe you should be removed from the library during finals week IF:
1. You spend more than 5 minutes on any of the following sites: Facebook, Myspace, Juicy Campus, the Huffington Post.
2. You spend more than one hour away from your idle, power hungry laptop (theft of laptop is another potential punishment, instead of expulsion)
3. You use your papers, jacket, backpack, shoes, food or other personal items to take up the space of 2-3 people at a table. (lighing said items on fire is a secondary option as well)
4. You go out to lunch/dinner but leave a notebook/book/paper at your chair and expect people to reserve space for you.
5. You remain at your laptop, but spend more time talking with your friends about how much work you have to do than actually doing work.
6. You are not a freshman, but this is your first time setting foot in the library since freshman orientation.
It happens to almost all NYU students: the moment when you snap, and unleash your pent up frustration at your university in a torrent of rage. For some it happens early, and you become a resigned cynic for the course of your education, for some it turns into a desire to take back your university, for others a fake flier defaming John Sexton.
For Neal Shechter of the College Dems, it turns into this explosive post at the College Dems Blog. Shechter’s post is significant because it comes from an organization firmly in the middle of NYU’s idelogical spectrum (83% of NYU voters voted for Obama), and it latches on to a few key issues for students that NYU:
1. Student Space. NYU’s Bobst Library was built in 1977, Kimmel opened in 2004 but reduced free study-space for students drastically vs. the old Loeb Center. Space for general student use continues to shrink.
2. Community. NYU has a self-perpetuated problem of a meager student-life community. Space issues and a disengaged faculty keep this problem alive. (though I would suggest to Neal that he investigate the Gallatin School if he’s concerned about contact with faculty)
3. Feeling Overwhelmed – Seriously. There’s a lot of problems with NYU. It’s sometimes hard to give a damn when you don’t even know where to start.
“Okay, fine. You caught us. That “In and Of the City” Financial Aid flyer wasn’t really from the NYU financial aid office. Students Creating Radical Change, a student activist group on campus made it. However, EVERYTHING ON THE FLYER WAS TRUE!! We didn’t lie once! The quote from President John Sexton is from a University Senate meeting (a guest wrote it down, word for word, since she, like many of the students who received the flyer today, was appalled by its implications) and the rhetoric in the text is borrowed from the university website
It’s also true that NYU is one of the worst private universities at meeting student need. As the economic crisis takes its toll on student their families, the administration points to its tiny endowment and says “Sorry, we can’t help you,” while simultaneously embarking on risky, capital-intensive projects in New York and abroad. Our endowment isn’t small enough to stop the school from giving $1 million to Washington Square Park renovations, or to stop President Sexton from accepting a $1.3 million/yr pay package. All this while they deny smart students the aid they need to stay in school
We made up the flyer to encourage discussion about NYU’s treatment of its students, and to encourage students to question their university’s priorities. We want to trust that the administration and trustees, the folks who make all the big decisions. We want to believe that they are acting with our best interests at heart, and that they share our values and priorities. But NYU’s neglect of students’ financial needs (and how that effects the quality of the student body and the university as an institution) proves that we just don’t see eye to eye. Students and trustees/administrators are at NYU for very different reasons, and want very different things from it. Until we reclaim control of OUR university, we will continue to attend a university that values prestige and expansion over the needs of its students. (NYU has a student movement called Take Back NYU! – which SCRC supports but does not represent – that demands budget and endowment disclosure, and that a student be placed on the Board of Trustees. TBNYU!’s demands are an important step towards a student-focused University)
Oh, one other thing: we have nothing against CUNY. We just thought a ‘go to CUNY’ plan would make a neat flier. In fact, CUNY is facing its own financial problems these days – check out http://www.cunysocialforum.com/ for info on the student resistance to budget cuts and tuition hikes in the state higher-ed system.
SCRC (Students Creating Radical Change)
NYU’s ban on Coke products was reaffirmed by the CAS Student Council yesterday. After an hour long debate between a member of Students Creating Radical Change, and two members of the College Republicans, the CAS Student Council General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to continue backing the ban. Two reports of the vote count gave 21-5 or 30-4 as the margin of victory.
The CAS vote supports a ban put in place by the NYU Senate in 2005 in response to the paramilitary assasinations and kidnappings of Columbian Coke Bottling Plant union leaders and their families. The vote rejects claims made by the Coke Company and their supporters that a document produced by the International Labor Organization constitutes a ‘independent investigation of human rights abuses committed against the Sinaltrainal Union’.
The ILO report not even contain the words ‘human rights’ or ‘assasinations’, but it never even claims to be an investigation – it writes up an 11 day walkthrough of bottling plants in Columbia, where workers were interviewed in the presence of their bosses, and no evidence was demanded to support or disprove claims. Also, Coke’s director of global labor relations, Ed Potter, is the US ambassador to the ILO, putting the independence of the organization in question.
Human rights abuses, including kidnappings, torture and death threats against the SINALTRAINAL union continue to this day. NYU made a promise to workers in Columbia that it would hold Coke accountable for this reign of terror. Lifting the ban now would betray that promise, and provide a foothold for Coke to undermine support for the ban in the 52 colleges and universities that stood up to them and demanded respect for the right to organize, and an end to human rights abuses.
For a few I had been planning a post in my mind about how NYU had avoided high-profile controversy this year, after last year’s Polytech-Abu Dhabi-Provincetown Playhouse smorgasbord of public debates, but it looks like they managed to prove me wrong. Just in the last month, they’ve said and done a lot of stupid things:
Like “There will be no service cuts for students!” … which actually wasn’t true, and having the President lie to students never wins points.
Which, of course, never stopped Mr. Sexton – he also misled students on fair pay in a town hall.
Then, after the WSN did a pretty decent job exposing guard cuts on campus, NYU went out of its way to gag guards from talking to the press.
Now, NYU made headlines for more or less lying about its crime statistics on campus, on a day when they would have much rathered talk about the Silver Towers and making nice with GVHPS.
THEN there’s the Sexton pay package, which, it turns out is ANOTHER example of NYU lying to its students – in 2005, the university said that Sexton’s salary wasn’t increasing, but at the same time the University vastly increased other forms of compensation that nearly doubled his overall pay.
Normally the target of ridicule for mediocre reporting and sycophatic relationships with NYU, the local Washington Square News has actually been doing a pretty good job of reporting and challenging the administration on a host of things, like:
With the exception of the Coke ban article today, which continued a long and proud tradition of denigrating progressive movements on NYU’s campus. This article is seriously a failure of the journalistic enterprise, and Phoebe Kingsak should not be allowed anywhere near a newspaper for the extended future. Her article reads almost exacly like the pro-Coke op-ed published yesterday, and that’s an embarassment.
This week, the President of NYU participated in one of his regular dog-and-pony town halls with the Student Senators Council. These events are rife with problems – they’re only a very weak form of student input, questions are filtered/censored by members of the Student Senators Council, and students have no way to independently verify whether their Administration is lying to them. (except when they get caught: during the meeting, the prez claimed that a report on pay discrimination at NYU showed no problems, which is verifiably false)
As promised, members of Take Back NYU! attended the meeting to break the monotony of jsex’s rambling, to some effect – the President got a little worked up, but finally made an (undiplomatic) response to TBNYU!’s demands for accountability, transparency and democracy at NYU. The answer, as he made very clear, is no, no, and no to each of the demands.
Despite much hullabaloo from campus media-types, every question submitted to the town hall was answered (including one about animal rights which moderator Whitney Petrie pretended didn’t exist, saying that all questions were answered before it was asked), and members of TBNYU! carried on a spirited debate with the Prez over the issues they’ve been pressing for over a year – perhaps the only open criticism he sees on a regular basis.
Criticism of TBNYU!’s tactics at the Townhall are as misplaced as they are disingenuous – the point of the campaign is that the President is wearing no clothes, that his high-minded claims to enlightened leadership are misleading, and that students should regard the administration as just one member of a large NYU community with competing interests in how the school is run. Students have an interest in affordable, accessible education, the administration has an interest in a larger university that expands their reputation and lines their pockets, and these interests are in conflict. Students should only take the administration seriously on the condition that the administration takes them seriously, and that has not happened.
Today two important events will be taking place at NYU -
The first is a march led by NYU National Organization for Women in support of budget disclosure to check against pay discrimination at NYU. Marchers will lead a procession from the Kimmel Center at 1pm, holding symbolic ‘glass ceilings’ above their heads to demand an end to NYU’s secrecy surrounding its finances.
The second is an ongoing project to encourage NYU students to remove their personal checking accounts from large banks that support environmentally devastating practices like mountain top removal or coal power, and instead place their money in local banks like the LES People’s Federal Credit Union that offer higher returns and invest in local people. Folks will be in the lobby starting at 11.
The first question to ask during tonight’s NYU President’s Town Hall is: who designed your jankety-ass poster (above)?
The second question to ask is: what will NYU do to help students through the economic crisis that threatens their income and access to student loans?
I think I know what the answer will be. Since last March, NYU has been developing an official line on student tuition that goes something like this: pay up or go home. The administration has embraced a free-market model of education that abandons the presumption that higher education should be available to all, and instead embraces brutal economic determinism to limit access to its resources. Expect any questions about finances, financial aid or tuition to come down to this: John Sexton’s ‘dreams’ for NYU come before anyone else’s dreams for their education.
President Sexton has repeatedly told students that their best option for coping with tuition is to leave – expect that argument to reach a more extreme, more callous extreme during the Town Hall, with the lively and friendly presence of Take Back NYU! members to lighten the mood.
lol jsex, lol indeed:
In October, a report leaked from Rutgers University showing significant and longstanding pay discrimination against female professors, particularly in science. Rutgers is not the first institution to find this type of discrimination, and no doubt it will not be the last. It’s nearness to NYU and position as a ‘peer institution’ (someone NYU would like to be like) puts the impetus on NYU to come clean about any potential pay discrimination occurring in our university.
NYU National Organization for Women has stepped up to challenge the university on the issue of pay equity and will hold a rally next Wednesday (the 12th) at 1pm, starting at the Kimmel Center at 40 Washington Square south and traveling in and through all of NYU land. NOW, as part of Take Back NYU! will demand that NYU disclose its budget as a step towards ensuring all employees receive equal pay for equal work.
The rally features mobs of students holding ‘glass ceilings’ above their heads to show the concrete problems created by NYU’s commitment to secrecy in all things.
The NY Times reports that the economic downturn will probably prompt universities to raise tuition further on account of deteriorating endowments (looking at you NYU).
There needs to be an investment in higher education in the US that focuses on students. Relying on endowments and tuition rather than government support to sustain universities means that schools pit the the students they serve against the health of the educational institution. If schools could draw on steady governmental support, they could avoid forcing their students into ever higher financial sacrafices – a problem that becomes particularly pointed during an economic depression/recession like the one we’re entering now.
Asking students to pay more during a downturn assumes that universities are valuable independent of their students, when in fact the financial and intellectual wellbeing of students should be the only measure of a university’s value. Higher tuition forces students into debt, and railroads them into acquiescing to the economic/political status quo for the sake of higher paying jobs. I’d like to see a national education policy that focuses on eliminating student debt as an inherent bad, and prevents universities from pitting universities against students.
In the short term, NYU should disclose the budget. Seriously.
Scarier than America’s first Terrorist President, NYU’s demons will be out on the loose in Washington Square Park tomorrow at 11.30 as Take Back NYU! unleashes its latest protest against the NYU Administration’s refusal to disclose the operating budget, endowment investments or allow a student on the Board of Trustees.
Street theater will include ghouls like:
The Tuition Vampire – the monster that keeps growing above the rate of inflation, sucking students dry.
The Ghosts of Washington Square Park – NYU dug up some bodies when it helped finance the ‘renovation’ of our park, and they’re coming back to haunt the plunderers of public space
NYU’s Skeletons in the Closet – What IS NYU hiding? Maybe these monsters will help us find out
Take Back NYU! will also begin putting pressure on the Administration with a drive for students to pledge refusal to donate to NYU until the school takes steps towards accountability transparency and democracy. Students will also be passing out info on the TBNYU! movement, and giving out candy advertising for the new web site.
here’s the deets:
What: Take Back NYU! NYU’s Monster Street Theater Action
When: Tuesday Oct. 28th, 11:30 pm
Where: East Side of Washington Square Park near Washington Place
I’ve kept from writing about the term limits vote because:
1. the fix was in from the start
2. I think that this is a pretty clearly bad move, and that’s been made evident elsewhere on this blog.
But here’s an interesting tidbit by way of Cathryn of the Washington Square Park blog – NYU President John Sexton took time from flying to Abu Dhabi to wander down to city hall and testify for the repeal of term limits.
NYU requires a load of favors from New York City, from tax breaks to zoning changes to park renovations, and John Sexton knows who is scratching his back. Sexton became NYU President not long after Bloomberg became mayor, and their fates and goals are linked – a transformation of the city to a upper-middle class ‘global’ playground, with an economy that relies on service industry and cultural labor. Sexton’s testimony shows just how public ‘private’ universities can be, and the fate of the city under a 3rd Bloomberg term.
NYU made the right call to keep Met Foods in its current location on 2nd Avenue. (Of course, this is after NYU doubled the rent, threatened to triple the rent, and generally forced a great-big CB3 runaround) NYU should make an effort to preserve low-cost food options in the neighborhood for the sake of the city’s residents, and for its own students – cost of living is a huge burden on the quality of student life, and increasing those costs only increases the expense of running the school as a whole. NYU should also take the step to re-invest its substantial endowment into community development more generally, instead of raising money via international corporate powers.
“Walking to school, on a day that was sunny/nearing the library, trying to study/when what to my wondering eyes does appear/but red white and blue, and CNN gear.” – ‘Twas The Night Before Voting
CNN set up camp next to NYU and CMJ with it’s “League of First Time Voters” mobile something-or-other, come to inspire new students to actually vote. First of all, I’m confused why a television network, with it’s presumption of ‘objectivity’ would take it upon itself to actively promote what about half of America chooses not to do – that is, vote. Second, the whole spectacle looked like an orchestrated pander to college-age folks, with edgy, stylized lettering and a “graffiti wall” where students could “express themselves.”
It also shows the basic format of political expression and corporate control – feel free to express yourself (on THIS wall), but make sure to express yourself, or else you’re not a real American. It’s a co-option of certain types of ‘expression’ as political resistance – but it also meant we got free buttons. CNN’s investment in this type of outreach shows the investment America’s corporate-political elite in voting, as well as the real potential of voter-abstention as a form of resistance.
I’m getting really tired of the media-technology fetish.
I attend an elite university with excessive tuition and a very privileged, talented student body. The people I pal around with have a lot to lose from being arrested, going to jail or getting kicked out of school. I think this is why folks at NYU so often default to talking about media and public image when thinking about social change. Media studies, public relations are the totally abstract, disembodied struggles, they require no sacrifice, and little to no personal risk in the service of a cause.
It’s also the reason I see NYU students pouring so much of their time into thinking about how media determines the ways-of-the-world. I also think it’s why NYU has so many technology-fetishists. Seriously: I’m really tired of hearing about how technology will foster democracy or converge our cultures – Jeff Jarvis has some good ideas, but has gotten to the point of outright deifying Google.
Ultimately I don’t think anyone has given a comprehensive or effective description of why corporations, governments, etc. have to care about their public image as such. Thinking about creating real power means getting into the specifics of that power, which probably also includes getting in the way of things.
Once upon a time, there was an NYU building called the Loeb Student Center. It had student club offices, rooms to meet, and served a few administrative functions. Then, in 2004, it was demolished. It was replaced by the Kimmel Center for University Life. Note the change in title – and a change in function.
Kimmel has no student group offices, but rather a maze of administrative functions, lounges with no desks or tables, and lots of locked rooms. It’s a place for sitting and chatting, not organizing or plotting. NYU has been endlessly pimping out the building to all comers – including this week, the CMJ Music Marathon, which despite being the COLLEGE Music Journalism conference, seems to primarily involve lots of older folks in Vans and thick glasses milling about looking cool and important both. CMJ is one example of how NYU has turned it’s buildings into symbols of institutional prestige at the cost of student life.
Despite huge investments in expansion lately, NYU is running really low on space right now – the Tisch Building for the Stern School is under renovation, with a loss of student space and classrooms that have put pressure on the Kimmel Center and the Library. It’s now a weekly struggle to find space in the library to study. The space/building situation at NYU embodies NYU’s real priorities – they’ll build new buildings for scientific research that builds prestige, law school buildings for that cash-cow, and new dorms to keep expanding the student body – but very little goes into the general student body doing the day-to-day work of studying and learning.
Cross-posted to the TBNYU! blog