The Arizona Desert Lamp

Only the Post Office will save us from DETH

Posted in Campus, Culture, Politics by Evan Lisull on 24 February 2009

NYU Protest SignAfter our banal and rather ineffective protests, it’s a bit wild to see a group of NYU students come at the problem from the other extreme, engaging in a hostile takeover of the equivalent of their student union. The story, from a local news outlet:

After renewed calls for negotiations between NYU officials and student body protestors after a night of intense rioting, those who were still barricaded in the college cafeteria Friday have finally ended their sit-in protest.

. . .
The students, who had been inside for three days, were talking with a megaphone to their peers who had gathered outside in the building’s courtyard.

The university took away power, internet, and restrooms according to the students, but the protestors showed few signs of leaving anytime soon.

. . .

The protest began about 10 p.m. Wednesday, when students from various city universities gathered in the seating area of the center’s cafeteria.

Members of the coalition, called Take Back NYU!, pushed tables and chairs against the doors. As many as 60 students participated in the initial action, Stainkamp said.

The students wanted NYU to release information on its budget and endowment, including staff salaries and financial aid. The students also wanted the university to release its investment strategy and the names of the people and firms involved in it.

“We have given them countless opportunities to look us in the face and talk about the way our school is run,” Stainkamp said. “They refuse to do this, except on their terms.”

The protesters also have made the Palestinian-Israeli conflict part of their cause, demanding the university donate “excess supplies and materials” to help rebuild a university damaged in December by Israeli air raids. They also want NYU to provide annual scholarships to Palestinian students, beginning in the 2009-10 school year.

There’s not a whole lot to take away from this madness, other than (a) there are worse things than impotent gestures, and (b) it’s somewhat incredible that NYU doesn’t already release the data that these students requested.

The most interesting take, though, came from a comment on the Volokh Conspiracy:

I did my Undergrad at Cornell U. Back in the 60’s there were a few successful building takeovers. The school responded by putting a bank branch office or post office in each of the main campus buildings. That way if a takeover is attempted now (or in the mid-90’s when I was there) it became a federal issue out of the hands of the school administrators.

Not surprisingly, our own Student Union not only has a post office, but a Wells Fargo branch as well. Without this threat of federal intervention, the main student union is actually ripe for a takeover — the gates are already installed, and the building has surprisingly few access points. The Park Student Union  has no such threat of repercussion, but is also impossibly hard to defend – too many opportunities for a crack in the defenses (although, if a Sen. Rosenstock is in our future, an ‘underground railroad‘ to Arizona-Sonora might be enough to provide for the necessary reinforcements).

I mean, what do you think about during class?

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6 Responses

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  1. Connor Mendenhall said, on 24 February 2009 at 12:23 pm

    My favorite part of this story is that turning off the Internet appears to be the tactical equivalent of cutting power and blockading the restrooms.

  2. Jimi Alexander said, on 24 February 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Connor, if the laptop habits of my fellow students is any indication, management of one’s social life is as essential as the use of restroom facilities.

    Poor kids. Losing Facebook must have been like losing a limb.

  3. wilsonrofishing said, on 24 February 2009 at 8:12 pm

    I love Take Back NYU! A team of the world’s best comedic screenwriters could not have scripted their pathetic last stand to play out any funnier. Corporate Water???? Come on, you have to admit that is the most pathetically bourgeois thing you’ve heard in a long time, no? Water is bad, Apple is good? Take Back NYU is going to ruin the Apple brand altogether!

  4. mattstyer said, on 24 February 2009 at 9:52 pm

    “There’s not a whole lot to take away from this madness, other than (a) there are worse things than impotent gestures, and (b) it’s somewhat incredible that NYU doesn’t already release the data that these students requested.”

    Nailed it.

  5. Jimi Alexander said, on 24 February 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Hey Evan and Connor! Where’s the breakdown of tonight’s Senate forum?

  6. Connor Mendenhall said, on 25 February 2009 at 12:24 am

    Hey Jimi,

    On the way, as far as I know. Evan’s the only one actually in Arizona, so he’s got a tight schedule this week.


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