On Monday, November 28, a University Town Hall was held in response to the student occupier’s vandalizing the Kellen Gallery. Three University Student Senate senators acted as mediators and facilitators of the informal town hall. The main objectives were to discuss the New School occupation and how to continue going forwards. Melissa Holmes, one of the senators, started the three-hour meeting at the Kellen Gallery by asking, “How did you experience this week?”
The first speaker was A. Rodriguez, a Parsons student and a worker at the Kellen Gallery. He talked about his unease at the offering of the gallery as a new space for the occupiers. He also elaborated on his role in helping take down the current exhibition on Thursday and then cleaning up the spray painted gallery on Sunday after the occupiers had left. Besides Mr. Rodriguez, three other student gallery workers, their employer and the gallery curator spoke at the town hall.
The initial model of having an open forum where seated attendees could simply shout out quickly became disorganized and argumentative. The student senators then asked all attendees who would like to say something to form a stack on the side of the room. Speakers took turns voicing their concerns. Various speakers repeated a few specific opinions throughout the meeting.
Some emphasized the lack of disrespect the occupiers showed towards the gallery and their horror at seeing 90 Fifth Avenue and the Kellen Gallery treated so badly. Others spoke about their role in the occupation movement and their sorrow at seeing the actions of a few uncooperative dissenters ruin the opportunity for students to have a space to congregate in. Both students and faculty from various schools of the university spoke.
When the student senators took a temperature check of the room an hour and a half into the meeting, many of the audience had already left. The response to the question, whether or not students want a space, was tepid. Near the two-hour mark, it was decided that a vote could not be taken now on whether or not the Kellen Gallery should continue to be the space offered to the student occupiers. It was also impossible to decide whether the students should be given a space at all. The student senators asked repeatedly for suggestions on how to move forwards.