The NYU Occupation

nyu-occupied2

So, as of 10 pm (on February 19), New York University (NYU) has been occupied by students.

For their blog, go here.

Below is a list of their demands.

We, the students of NYU, declare an occupation of this space. This occupation is the culmination of a two-year campaign by the Take Back NYU! coalition, and of campaigns from years past, in whose footsteps we follow.

In order to create a more accountable, democratic and socially responsible university, we demand the following:

1. Full legal and disciplinary amnesty for all parties involved in the occupation.

2. Full compensation for all employees whose jobs were disrupted during the course of the occupation.

3. Public release of NYU’s annual operating budget, including a full list of university expenditures, salaries for all employees compensated on a semester or annual basis, funds allocated for staff wages, contracts to non-university organizations for university construction and services, financial aid data for each college, and money allocated to each college, department, and administrative unit of the university. Furthermore, this should include a full disclosure of the amount and sources of the university’s funding.

4. Disclosure of NYU’s endowment holdings, investment strategy, projected endowment growth, and persons, corporations and firms involved in the investment of the university’s endowment funds. Additionally, we demand an endowment oversight body of students, faculty and staff who exercise shareholder proxy voting power for the university’s investments.

5. That the NYU Administration agrees to resume negotiations with GSOC/UAW Local 2110 – the union for NYU graduate assistants, teaching assistants, and research assistants. That NYU publicly affirm its commitment to respect all its workers, including student employees, by recognizing their right to form unions and to bargain collectively. That NYU publicly affirm that it will recognize workers’ unions through majority card verification.

6. That NYU signs a contract guaranteeing fair labor practices for all NYU employees at home and abroad. This contract will extend to subcontracted workers, including bus drivers, food service employees and anyone involved in the construction, operation and maintenance at any of NYU’s non-U.S. sites.

7. The establishment of a student elected Socially Responsible Finance Committee. This Committee will have full power to vote on proxies, draft shareholder resolutions, screen all university investments, establish new programs that encourage social and environmental responsibility and override all financial decisions the committee deems socially irresponsible, including investment decisions. The committee will be composed of two subcommittees: one to assess the operating budget and one to assess the endowment holdings. Each committee will be composed of ten students democratically elected from the graduate and under-graduate student bodies. All committee decisions will be made a strict majority vote, and will be upheld by the university. All members of the Socially Responsible Finance Committee will sit on the board of trustees, and will have equal voting rights. All Socially Responsible Finance Committee and Trustee meetings shall be open to the public, and their minutes made accessible electronically through NYU’s website. Elections will be held the second Tuesday of every March beginning March 10th 2009, and meetings will be held biweekly beginning the week of March 30th 2009.

8. That the first two orders of business of the Socially Responsible Finance committee will be:
a) An in depth investigation of all investments in war and genocide profiteers, as well as companies profiting from the occupation of Palestinian territories.
b) A reassessment of the recently lifted of the ban on Coca Cola products.

9. That annual scholarships be provided for thirteen Palestinian students, starting with the 2009/2010 academic year. These scholarships will include funding for books, housing, meals and travel expenses.

10. That the university donate all excess supplies and materials in an effort to rebuild the University of Gaza.

11. Tuition stabilization for all students, beginning with the class of 2012. All students will pay their initial tuition rate throughout the course of their education at New York University. Tuition rates for each successive year will not exceed the rate of inflation, nor shall they exceed one percent. The university shall meet 100% of government-calculated student financial need.

12. That student groups have priority when reserving space in the buildings owned or leased by New York University, including, and especially, the Kimmel Center.

13. That the general public have access to Bobst Library.

SOLIDARITY STATEMENT

We, the students of Take Back NYU! declare our solidarity with the student occupations in Greece, Italy, and the United Kingdom, as well as those of the University of Rochester, the New School for Social Research, and with future occupations to come in the name of democracy and student power. We stand in solidarity with the University of Gaza, and with the people of Palestine.

*UPDATE*

According to there site (the link is below), NYU refuses to negotiate with the students. They first offered to talk if the group called off the protest. They were (obviously) told that would not do. So tonight, NYU plans to arrest and expel students who are “trespassing” after 1 am tonight.

This may, oddly, be over before it starts. It seems like a lot hinges upon their emphasizing that they get immunity. I wonder, since I’m not at NYU or in New York, how many students really feel this way. I think most of their demands are solid – I think many students may feel the same – but I wonder how deep the frustration really reaches. Please fill me in if one knows.

*A smaller update*
They’re still there. Their call for protests in front of the Kimmel building was answered and NYU has agreed to negotiate with the students, although that does not seem to be going too well.

There is a lot of diverse comments and thoughts about their actions, but the more negative people are to this, the more I tend to side with them. Despite, as I mentioned before, their insistence on amnesty and pay for teachers (they need to face the consequences), I feel like these are important things at any university. When I hear comments like we, the lunch crowd, are against you because we care more about quesadillas and food than what your causes are, I feel like jumping into the building myself.

It is of no use comparing this to the 1960s and saying these kids are “playing” radicals – that is certainly a supportable position, especially when they are hardly willing to go down for their beliefs. But is that the point? Has protest in the US been that blackballed that any sense of moral outrage, genuine moral outrage (and wherever this NYU protest stands) is seen as us “playing” heroes from another era. Are the people really that against the NYU students? We’ll see, but this is a fun experiment, let’s hope, because their demands are reasonable, they succeed.

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~ by Daniel on February 20, 2009.

3 Responses to “The NYU Occupation”

  1. Thanks for your post, but I disagree on the importance of amnesty…how could the students hope to accomplish anything when their first demand is their own protection? Most of the students backed down when it became clear that they would risk consequences for standing up for their beliefs.

    Fighting for change entails risk…Thoreau, Gandhi, King all suffered for their beliefs, and so many of these so-called protestors weren’t willing to do the same. Their weak devotion to their cause implies that it wasn’t that important to begin with.

    Admittedly my take is significantly less serious than yours: http://rumorsontheinternets.org/2009/02/20/nyu-protestors-are-completely-embarrassing-themselves/

  2. I posted that very quickly and need to clarify. When I said they need more gall, I meant to say, they need to take the consequences that come with protest, regardless of the degree.

    I agree with you. Protest entails risk. This was risky. I don’t think that amnesty should be what they are fighting for, although it would be nice for them as students to continue to go NYU.

    I will clarify, but thanks for the comment!

  3. “…I feel like jumping into the building myself…”

    hold my hand… I jump with you…

    Thank you for the post.

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