Take Back NYU–WHAT??

February 21, 2009 at 4:08 pm | Posted in American politics | 1 Comment
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This post was written by Jaime, Dan’s wife.

So let’s review the top news stories this week:

1. NY Post’s completely inappropriate, offensive cartoon and subsequent lame apologies and public protests.  See here for one of the recent articles.

2. The horrific attack on a Connecticut woman by a chimpanzee

3. Various star sightings at Fashion Week or while traveling to the upcoming Oscars this weekend.

4. Two tragic ends of life: a junior jumps (?) to his death at Dalton and a man writes his suicide note as a Facebook status.

5. President Obama’s stimulus package being signed into law.

6. Rihanna remains strong, despite the horrific beating at the hands of a man who claims to love her, and the LAPD’s lax handling of the image of her.

And then there’s my favorite:

7. NYU students taking back their campus with a laundry list of demands for University personnel.

Now I’m the child of two peace-loving hippies.  I grew up raging against the man, and learning the methods of non-violent protest.  I’ll never forget protesting the closing of my middle school.  We made our opinion clear:  Don’t close Wilkes Barre Township, and then proceeded to walk out of class at 10:00am one Tuesday morning to show solidarity around this cause.  We accepted the consequences, and didn’t have any further demands, because we believed in our cause.

Oh if the NYU kids only kept it that simple.

First, rushing armed guards to push past them is not non-violence.

Second, breaking locks onto forbidden balconies, then dancing on that stage demeans the value of your protest.  It detracts from your true demands.

Third, how are you “taking back NYU” when you took over a student area? If you took over an administrative building, ok–that makes sense.  But isn’t a student center your area anyways?

Nevermind their naivete in protesting, let’s look at their demands, as stated here:

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

Ok, so the primary demand is to protect yourself for this stunt.  Scary.

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

What does that mean?  Are you requesting that the janitor who couldn’t clean the Kimmel Center overnight still be compensated? Ok. . .

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.

Ok, this makes more sense to “taking back NYU.”  Now I’m starting to get your vibe.  But do you realize that this is one of the fundamental differences between a public and a private institution?  As a benefit of not taking government monies, a private institution does not have to justify itself to any outside body, even it’s student body.

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.

Um ok.  Still get your vibe, but see above.  This is again a right to being a private institution.  Even if it wasn’t, why do you think that NYU Trustees are going to allow an oversight body of students to veto their decisions? That makes the Trustees a powerless body, yet they have the responsibility to bring in the financial means to run the university.  Essentially the students are asking for responsibility without any semblance of accountability for themselves.  Typical entitlement thinking. . .

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.

This makes sense in terms of “taking back NYU.”

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.

What is the history here? What are you really trying to prevent or fight for? It makes sense to some extent.

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.

When you can bring in the monies for the endowment, then you can have a seat at the table.  Really. Are you seriously asking to run the university’s finances?? Why do you think that the students need to do this?

8. That the first two orders of business of the Socially Responsible Finance committee will be:

  1. 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.

What??? Why is the Palestinian territories now tied to “taking back NYU?” How has Palestine or occupation of the Palestinian territories taken NYU away from you? And why are you tying such a politically contemptuous issue to your demands?

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.

Start a foundation or non-profit.  Why does NYU have to take this on? Like they don’t have enough work to do trying to teach students to create coherent theses, absolutely not evident here in these demands.

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.

Now NYU is a lender?  Wow. Seriously, NYU is a private institution.  Do these students have any idea what that means?

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.

Ok this makes sense to “taking back NYU.”  I can see this one clearly.

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

Again NYU is private.  Why do they have to open their resources to the public?  Are you sure you didn’t want to attend a public institution instead of NYU?

What scares me even more is that the students involved in this shenanigans aren’t logical enough to realize the error of their ways, and why this “occupation” is ineffective.  The irony is that they are in some ways protesting the occupation of Palestinian territories, yet they try to occupy their own space? It just doesn’t make sense to me.

I almost want to use this example as a discussion point with my high school kids.  But I’d be willing to bet that most of my high school kids are smart enough to tell me how the NYU dummies could have done it better.

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  1. Take Back NYU rocks!

    I love those guys! 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; Apple is marketed for slackers, NOT hippies.

    And why did Take Back! narrow their goals when they were doing so well and capturing the imagination of the worldwide public? Why did they not fight to achieve protection for the Cape Fear River shiner, one of the most endangered fishes in North America? Or fight to replace the hurtful “MILF” genre of adult film with the less judgmental “experienced women” title?

    If only they had not been so pragmatic, this really could have been a changed world. . .


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