– via n +1: This piece first appeared in the third issue of the OWS-inspired Gazette: OCCUPY!

RACHEL SIGNER, Dec 26, 2011
I arrived at the New School in the fall of 2008 to do a master’s degree in anthropology. Tuition was $23,000 per year—this did not include room or board—but the opportunity to be in a great intellectual community eased my anxiety about the cost. A little bit.

Tuition was high for a reason: the school, I soon learned, was on shaky financial footing. Founded in 1919 in part by Columbia professors disgusted by their university’s support of World War I, then expanded in 1933 as a refuge for scholars fleeing Fascism and Nazism in Europe, it wasn’t the sort of place that produced the sort of people who turned around and gave their alma mater millions of dollars. The endowment was meager, and the school relied on tuition for revenue.

The New School needed to improve its financial situation and its status, and it was going to do it, like any New York institution, through real estate. It owned an old two-story building at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 14th Street—a former department store whose slogan had been “Fifth Avenue Values at 14th Street Prices”—that it was going to tear down and replace it with a state-of-the-art gleaming sixteen-story tower, home to studios for designers and artists studying at the New School’s profitable design institute, Parsons, and laboratories (for whom, no one could tell you; the New School offers no courses in hard sciences), retail food vendors, apartments, and—most insulting of all, I think, to the symbolic heirs, as we liked to consider ourselves, of refugees from fascism—a fitness center. At the time, the building, at 65 Fifth Avenue, was a multi-purpose meeting place where graduate students could read quietly, have lunch in the café, or find books in the basement library. There had been classrooms upstairs, but at that point they had already been relocated to the Minimalist-style building a few blocks away where my department, Anthropology, was crammed together with Sociology.

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from the New York Times

By AIDAN GARDINER

New School President David Van Zandt conferred with student occupiers on Thursday.

Much of New York City may be having a hard time getting used to the presence of protesters, but at the New School, the progressive liberal-arts bastion in Greenwich Village, occupation is a semiregular occurrence.

And on Thursday afternoon, as thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters marched from Union Square to Foley Square, roughly a hundred New School students veered off, rushed the university’s study center at 90 Fifth Avenue and declared the school to be occupied once again.

It was the New School’s third occupation in four years, and in stark contrast to 2009, when the university’s president at the time, former United States Senator Bob Kerreycalled in the police to arrest student protesters, the university’s administration is fine with it.

“As long as they’re not disrupting the educational functions of the university they can stay,” the university’s president, David E. Van Zandt, said Thursday. “It’s a tough time for students right now, and we’re aware of that. These are big social issues.”

After entering the space, protesters asked those present to leave if they did not want to participate in the occupation. Then they covered the windows and hung banners outside with slogans like “Annihilate capitalism! Retaliate and destroy,” and “People power not ivory tower.”

The occupation followed a rally in Union Square Thursday afternoon where students from Cooper Union, New York University and the New School and other colleges spoke out against what they called high costs and weak financial-aid systems.

Dacia Mitchell, a 30 year-old doctoral student at New York University holding a toddler in her arms, said at the rally, “I’m here with my 2 year-old because I can’t afford child care. I cannot say I haven’t received any support. I get a stipend of $200 per semester which affords me one week of day care if I’m lucky.”

Tuitions at the New School vary depending on the division, but often approach $20,000 per semester.

After the students occupied the study center, police officers initially barred others from following the protesters, but eventually Dr. Van Zandt told them to allow people with valid student identification to pass through, even those who attend other universities.

The study center is on the second floor of a larger apartment building. The university leases the space, and Dr. Van Zandt said that although he had no intention of ousting the students, the building’s owner, 90 Fifth Owner L.L.C., could call the police in if it deemed the protesters hazardous.

Many protesters declined to speak to reporters because they had not yet collectively decided how to interact with the press. Protesters also barred reporters from entering the occupied space.

Chris Crews, a graduate student studying politics at the New School, said that the scene inside was calm. Students were gathered in general assemblies. He also said that the group did not yet have many provisions like sleeping bags for a longer stay, but they would gradually collect them.

By Friday morning, the number of occupiers dipped to about 30, but many had left to run errands and collect supplies for their return later in the day.

“The most encouraging thing is that the administration and students haven’t had a serious confrontation yet,” Mr. Crews said.

In a statement released online, the occupiers said that universities create social inequality because they are so expensive.

“Skyrocketing tuition costs at public and private institutions deny us access to higher education and saddle us with crushing debt,” the statement read. “We will reclaim this elite space and make it open to all.”

The occupiers plan to hold another general assembly on Friday afternoon where they seek to draw more students from neighboring universities.

“The hope is that the space at 90 Fifth can be a jumping-off point for student activism throughout the city,” Mr. Crews said. “This could be a one-off, or it could be the beginning of a new wave of student occupations.”

New School Walkout March 4th

February 24, 2010

https://i0.wp.com/afterthefallcommuniques.info/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/AfterTheFall_map.jpgAfter the Fall: Communiques from Occupied California is now available for on-line reading

The parting words of After the Fall– at once both a summation and a call– present the occupations in the past 6 months as a “vulgar and beautiful” destabilizing force within a larger arena of forces, at times nomadic and imperceptible, at other times spectacularly, with declarations and attitude.

Still, the finale of welfare state social services, the numbing terror of disaster, displacement, the colonial politics, the social death of civic life, the logic of representation, the endless reproduction of modern misery, the absent future, the crises of capital, the Afghan offensive, the government in a box– none of this deserves the elegance of any of the words we printed in this publication. They deserve a swift, merciless street fight.

Quickly now.
After the Fall.

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March Forth Tour Dates:
Thursday Feb 18th– SUNY Purchase
Wednesday Feb 24th– SUNY Stony Brook
Friday Feb 26th– SUNY Albany
Saturday Feb 27th– SUNY New Paltz

Get in touch if you can help out with any of these dates!


A response to the University’s Capital Planning Seminar taking place earlier in the same building.

At night on 19 Nov, approximately 75 (non)students from the New School, NYU, CUNY, and other university-factories in NYC marched from Washington to Union Squares and back in a gesture of solidarity with the wave of occupations that has swept the University of California system in response to the 32% tuition hike, budget cuts, and the reproduction of students as consumer-commodities ready to work for spectacle-subjects. The march saw crazy hooligans hanging banners off of buildings; masked rogues scattering trashcans, newspaper boxes and plastic barricades across Fifth Avenue; sexy dancing throughout the streets an attempted occupation of a Parsons art party as well as the good ol’ 65 5th ave. Unfortunately, the fun ended when cops managed to pierce the motley mob, arresting two after beating them on the sidewalk.

The two arrested were taken to the 6th Precint in the West Village, where much of the crowd ended up at the end of the night, dancing and singing out front, distributing pamphlets and glow sticks, and remaining until the two walked free.

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https://i2.wp.com/farm4.static.flickr.com/3652/3460976441_d00877996f.jpgNew School administrative chumps release their version of events of the reoccupation of 65 5th ave on April 10th, 2009.

Download Report here

Highlights:

  • One banner read “April Fools, motherfucker.”  Because the Occupation was on April 10, it is not clear what this banner was intended to suggest.
  • The officer called on police Hazmat units to contain the trash can and the area around it, which was dyed red.
  • In the period between approximately 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., members of the occupying party, wearing hoods and masks, began appearing on the roof for different intervals of time.  Reports indicate that during these intervals the occupants read a list of complaints regarding the University as well as manifestos criticizing the capitalist system.

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