Monday, November 28th marked The New School’s third Town Hall Meeting, a continued effort to have open dialogue about university happenings and New School focused conversation between the university community and administration. The topic was the recent occupation at 90 Fifth Avenue by supporters of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. The University President David Van Zandt ,Provost Tim Marshall and the Student Senate were all in attendance. Student Senate served as the host attempting to facilitate the meeting by moving the conversation along in the goal of arriving at an answer to “where can we move the occupiers?”
Adam Rodriguez, a student worker at Kellen Gallery was the first to speak citing the graffiti done to the the 90 Fifth Avenue building and the Kellen Gallery as reason against providing protesters with another opportunity to occupy New School property. “Where is the common sense?” Rodriguez demanded.
After Rodriguez the Student Senate opened the conversation to anyone who had input. Many speakers, including two other Kellen Gallery employees expressed their outrage over the damage done to 90 Fifth Avenue. One student who had been present in the occupation remarked that those responsible for the damage were in the minority reminding the audience “the actions of a few individuals do not reflect the majority,”; “the trade off was to avoid police violence” said a student who had been at the university in the days of the Kerry protests “we were successful in that.”
Talk about damage done to 90 Fifth Avenue became repetitious but there was a good deal of conversation in support of The New School continuing to host the occupiers in support of the OWS movement because of the university’s “radical history” and “progressive” nature many said that it would be a missed opportunity on behalf of the university to not be a host of dialogue in line with the movement.
“I was disappointed by the lack of conversation” a Lang student who had participated in the occupation of 90 Fifth avenue said; she touched on points expressed by many other speakers by saying that providing a space to host the movement was important but there had to be some organizing and facilitation to ensure that there is actually a progressive and beneficial dialogue taking place.
“How do we ensure that the space is inclusive to everyone? How do we hold occupiers accountable? What are politics of race, of gender and of class within the movement and the university? “ A lot of important questions were asked but a diminishing crowd and diminishing time didn’t allot enough proposals and the remaining crowd did not feel comfortable making a decision for a new space on behalf of the entire university. The Student Senate assured remaining audience members they would find a way to reach out to the university community to come to a decision but as of this Town Hall nothing was determined.