NSGS Students Create Bachelors Program Student Union
Maybe there’s hope for student involvement at the New School after all. Two students from the New School for General Studies (NSGS) have made it their mission to bring about changes to their program through the formation of the Bachelor’s Program Student Union (BPSU). It is the first student governmental body devoted to serving students at NSGS, and its first meeting was held on February 25.
The origins of the BPSU go something like this: At an open forum held last semester between NSGS students and their new dean David Scobey, many took the opportunity to voice often heard complaints regarding the state of affairs at the school, including familiar concerns like poor advising, the lack of a homogeneous community, and of course, inadequate student space.
Among those at Dean Scobey’s forum were Vanessa Maruskin and Hannah Arnett, both students in the Bachelor’s Program at NSGS. Both women attended the meeting because they were frustrated at the lack of effort going toward improving student services at their school. After meeting each other at the event, Maruskin and Arnett came to the conclusion that something had to be done to improve student life at their institution, even if they had to do it themselves.
So Maruskin and Arnett decided to submit a proposal to the administration for the formation of NSGS’s very own student-led organization, a first for the division. Their proposal was accepted with enthusiastic support
from Dean Scobey, President Van Zandt, and the administration, and all of Maruskin and Arnett’s hard work and effort culminated in the first-ever meeting of the BPSU last month.
Food and drink at the inaugural BPSU meeting included around half a dozen bottles of wine, a cheese plate, and a spectacular hummus spread that included tabbouleh and grape leaves, all compliments of funding the duo had allocated from the administration for the organization (“Dean Scobey was incredibly helpful,” Maruskin noted). The affair drew around a dozen students from NSGS; though a relatively low number, it was still a promising turnout for the first meeting, and all of the participants were eager to discuss issues they saw as a hindrance to their education at the New School. The evening’s biggest point of order, however, was the perceived lack of social and study space given to NSGS students by the university.
To say the least, an inadequate amount of centralized space is granted to students in General Studies programs. So much so that, when discussing the issue and comparing NSGS to other divisions, Maruskin and Arnett made it sound like Lang and Parsons students had all the free space in the world at their disposal. Anyone who goes to Lang or Parsons would know that this is far from the truth, but comparatively, General Studies students do suffer from a lack of academic space.
However, the two BPSU leaders had done their homework, noting how the W 12th St. building’s 5th and 6th floors were originally designated to serve as a “student social home,” particularly for students in the adult education program now housed at NSGS, a place where students could meet, network, and study together.
That space is long gone, instead occupied by the bustling pedestrian traffic of students from Lang and other divisions rushing to class. Students at the New School for General Studies have consistently found themselves on the periphery when it comes to the university’s priorities; can one even think of a specific place on campus designated for use by NSGS students? These kinds of issues are why Maruskin and Arnett decided to start the Bachelor’s Program Student Union.
“The number one complaint we hear about is there’s no community, or a lack of community [at the New School],” Maruskin said. “We hope this group will put something together where we can work in a communal sort of way.”