Does NYU Want to Be Taken Back?

February 22, 2009

A two-day protest at New York University ended Friday afternoon when several dozen students left a cafeteria they occupied -- without having the university meet any of their demands, which ranged from more financial aid to the release of more information about the endowment and budget to scholarships for Palestinians. NYU announced that it would suspend 18 students and the university blasted the way the protest was run. “Despite the protesters’ stated principles that the protest was to be non-destructive and non-violent, the protesters, despite specific warnings to stay off the Kimmel Center balcony, broke the lock to gain access to the balcony. The protesters also injured an NYU security officer during a scuffle. These actions dishonor NYU’s commitment to free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate, and legitimate forms of protest,” said a university statement. Take Back NYU, the group that organized the protest, issued its own statement, claiming victory. “No doubt NYU will begin attempting disciplinary action, but no suspensions, expulsions or arrests can contain what began in the last two days. This fight will carry on in the hands of the dozens of people who made it inside, and the hundreds more who came out to support the occupation. NYU showed its irrational need to defend secrecy and its exclusive hold on power, and that alone will drive this movement forward,” said the statement. While the protest drew hundreds of supporters outside, it is not clear that most students backed the movement. An editorial in The Washington Square News, the student paper, said that it was “hardly democratic for this small, self-selected group to speak on behalf of the entire university,” criticized the breadth of demands (while applauding some of them), and called the protest “a catered, self-indulgent dance party.”

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