Reflections from a New School Student Occupier:
12/16/08

At approximately 7 pm tonight I joined with my fellow students in initiating a student occupation of the 65 5th avenue building of the New School. I am here today to show my opposition to business as usual at the university, and to stand in solidarity with other students who feel the same. We come from diverse backgrounds, and different politics, but we all agree that the university needs to change.

When I chose the New School, I thought that I was coming to a university which prided itself on its academic legacy, its attention on social justice concerns, and its history of bringing theoretical ideas into practical fruition. In other words, turning ideas into action based on principles of social justice.

But what I have found after one semester at this school is an administration that appears unable to engage its students, faculty, deans or provost in academic decision making; one that has consistently neglected academics in favor of money making; an institution which operates without transparency and in a highly undemocratic manner; and an institution where the discontent of students, faculty, and staff is so significant and widespread that the senior administration can no longer keep it hidden.

I came to this university at significant financial costs because of the strength of the Department of Politics and the interdisciplinary emphasis within NSSR. The lack of adequate funding for research and teaching assistants is a serious concern of mine, and is a major detraction from the university. This stark lack of resources is a clear and concrete impediment to quality research, and another major weakness of the New School. The lack of an adequate library is a further problem, and speaks to the continued neglect of academics by President Bob Kerrey and Executive Vice President James Murtha, as well as the New School Board of Trustees.

Beyond these issues, there are other concern that have come to my attention. These include the involvement of the New School with military-defense contracts from the US government; the active involvement of Board member Robert B. Millard and his position within L-3 Communications; the arbitrary firing of Provost Joseph Westphal by the President and his immediate self-appointment as acting Provost; and finally the continued neglect which the President and Board of Trustees show toward serious student and faculty concerns.

It is because of these issues, and a desire to attend a university with a meaningful education and an ethical philosophy, that I have chosen to take part in this student occupation.

-A New School Graduate Student