Photo: Andrew Hinderaker
So this is what is going on down the block from me today……
Students at New York University barricaded themselves in a room in a school building on Wednesday night and then announced a list of demands that they said they wanted to present to school administrators.
The action, organized by a student group called Take Back N.Y.U., began just before 10 p.m. in the John Ben Snow dining room on the third floor of the Kimmel Center, a modern building on Washington Square South that includes administration offices and a theater and is a hub of student activities. (See streaming video of the occupation.)
Students shoved a jumble of tables and chairs against two doors leading into the room then declared their sovereignty.
“We are the Take Back N.Y.U. campaign,” announced a young woman who stood on a table and spoke through a megaphone.
Around her, other students chanted: “Whose space? Our space.”
The takeover was reminiscent of a similar action that took place a few blocks away in December at the New School University, and indeed some of those at N.Y.U. said that the New School takeover –– which took place in a cafeteria and lasted about 30 hours –– was an inspiration.
Students at the New School at first called for the resignation of school officials, including the university’s president, Bob Kerrey, among other demands. Ultimately, they walked out of the cafeteria without resignations taking place, but with agreements from school officials to maintain study and library space and give students a greater voice in various school affairs..
The demands included a full and annual reporting of the university’s operating budget, expenditures and endowment. The students also demanded that the university provide 13 scholarships annually to students from the Gaza Strip and give surplus supplies to the Islamic University of Gaza.
The students also called upon the school to allow graduate teaching assistants to unionize and to freeze tuition, which students said could approach $50,000 annually, including room and board.
“We’re going to stay here until the administration agrees to meet with us,” said Farah Khimji, 20, a sophomore studying social and cultural analysis and anthropology.