Wednesday, November 30

The Aftermath of the Graffiti

The fresh paint was barely dry on Kellen Gallery’s walls as the New School’s students and faculty gathered in a Town Hall meeting on on November 28th. The meeting, which was hosted by the University Student Senate, offered a chance to voice concerns and opinions about the school’s involvement with the Occupy Wall Street movement and what the future of the gallery holds. The Senate let the students take the stage - president Van Zandt and provost Marshall opted to observe from front row - and the event turned out heavy with drama but futile with resolutions.

Opinions ranged from indignant to hopeful, but the one wish everyone seemed to agree on was simple: something needs to happen, and fast. Many speakers noted that the school’s reputation as a radical one gives an advantage for civic engagement, but also builds pressure to react. One student compared the school’s situation to that of UC Davis, where peaceful student protestors were pepper sprayed by university police earlier this month. “We have this amazing opportunity where our president is actually offering us a chance to express ourselves and be involved,” the student said, drawing supportive nods from Van Zandt. Those speaking in support of the Occupy movement expressed regret about the fact that the actions of a few individuals  can taint the image of the whole movement. “Let’s not talk about what happened here in the gallery anymore,” one pleaded. “Instead, let’s talk about what’s going to happen now."

As the gallery’s latest exhibition was being noisily cleared out in the back, the meeting slowly fell apart as well. After heated opinions turned into repetitive complaints, most of the crowd cleared out well before the two-hour mark and left the student senate with no choice but to promise to propose a way of voting for the movement’s future. “Use these next two weeks to do something radical,” a member of the faculty said to the students, “You have been given a gift - use it. Please.”

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