headlines | about |

Occupation Student – Autonomous Residencies at the New School

12 18 08 NYC – Today two text messages directed me to go to the New School University for a press conference of occupying students at 10:30 a.m. – I had just time to gulp a cup of coffee and drag off across town. Lucky I’m staying in the Golden Apple this month. When I got there, a clutch of some 20 or 30 students were milling about in front of the New School looking nervous. The occupation was inside, and had been going on overnight. A spokesman came forth at 10:30 or so, speaking to only me and a guy with a video camera (no mainstream press; I used to write for!), and filled us in on the New School-specific case against the President, Bob Kerrey, and his administration.
This is all rather old news, which has almost naturally gotten worse. Kerrey’s a war criminal (Vietnam yeah yeah), ties to military contractors (well, duh!), no financial transparency about university finances (oooh!, Madoff-ism?), vote of no confidence by faculty last week (in a medieval academy, he’d be gone) – old charges with a lot of new spice and sauce. Kerrey is obviously not working out so well – for students and faculty, that is; but really, who cares about them? Do they make a university? They can be replaced…
On the street I chatted with multiple anarchistic folks and grad students in the cold morning air. The event got suddenly more interesting when students went around the side of the uilding and opened up a side door for free passage in and out. They were contested by New School security guards, and there was a brief scuffle – but it finally sorted out. One guard and one plainclothes stood by on the street, and for about a half hour the students controlled the 13th street utility entrance. At the front door, no one was being let in. I have an NYU faculty ID, but they would not let me in, despite that New School is consorted with NYU, and I have gotten into this building before with that ID. A gent with the Lawyers Guild pointed out the arrival of Bob Kerrey to talk to the students – I probably got the only picture of the prez as he strode into the building. With Kerrey came the New York City police.
Solidarity activists slipped through that only briefly open side door into the occupation, including our pal Emily, and the international anarchist celebrity, anthropologist David Graeber clad in a full-length leather coat. (His “ethnography” of the social movement is slated to come out – or may already be out – from AK Press.)
Very shortly thereafter, the NYPD took up positions at the front door, pushing people around with much talk and explanation. Then they came around the side and really pushed people around with no soft soap, one officer cocking around in classic fashion, and opening his samjuk-like extendible baton (that’s samjuk, like the dried water buffalo penis beloved of South African police during the apartheid era). One diminutive young man simply would not move. He was arrested, and bundled into a van. There is something very powerful about a sudden moral decision made by a very slight and breakable person… Many cameras clicked on this action.
I wonder how many of these students understand how abhorrent the intervention of state police onto university campuses in the event of students’ strikes is in other countries. It was a scandal at Columbia in New York in 1968. Police murdered students on Mexico City campuses in that same year. Now cops on campus is routine. When I visited Lehman College CUNY in the Bronx, it was pointed out to me that the broad roadways, formerly pathways, were widened and paved in the ‘70s to allow access to police vehicles for the next time when. CUNY armed their police – a flying squad – not very long ago. (CUNY may be next to go, after New School.) The University of California police in Berkeley raided an off campus infoshop recently, Long Haul (publisher of Slingshot), together with the FBI. The reason? Some emails, allegedly threatening the animal research lab, had come from Long Haul’s open access computer facility. Funny how the state is so very frightened of these students. I think they’ve good reason to be; if I were in their shoes, I’d squash ‘em like bugs, and be quick about it. People who think are one thing; people who think and act are dangerous.
At this moment, the New School occupation is ongoing. Whether it hooks up with student-driven action in Italy, Greece and elsewhere, or remains the mere locally motivated squall of a few graduate students, remains to be seen. Some are pushing left. (The occupation was instantly linked to the Italian edu-factory website.) Pushing for international solidarity. As Obama shapes up his neo-Clintonian, neo-liberal “government from the center,” I am hopeful that students will not simply go back to sleep. Let this be the first convulsion among the newly disturbed dreamers of privilege. Let them awake, and join the rest of the fucked in doing something about it. For updates: See

Press conference outside the New School1.82 MB

At last -- some substantive critique of those snot-nosed brats

The New School Occupation -- Perspectives on the takeover of a building -- 02.05.09
from everyone’s favorite autonomous faction in non-cooperation
january 2009 --
and posted at: