New School General Assembly Organizes, Marches to Zuccotti Park
Additional reporting by Stephany Chung
In the first public meeting of The New School’s very own general assembly, roughly 80 students gathered in the Vera List Courtyard at 2 p.m. on November 2, standing in solidarity with ongoing social and economic concerns voiced by Occupy Wall Street.
Representatives from New York University and City University of New York joined New School students in discussing the roles that universities should play in the weeks following Occupy Wall Street. Students aired grievances about rising tuition costs and the lack of administrative and institutional transparency at The New School.
“We’re told that we are part of a tradition of dissent and that The New School wants to train us to be the free thinkers, leaders, and critics of tomorrow,” said Marianne LeNabat, a New School student and General Assembly organizer. “And yet they want us to be completely passive of things in our own backyard.”
Other students spoke out about their feelings of economic uncertainty in light of the ongoing recession.
“In our entire country, education is failing across the board. And that is in all grades, in public schools and private schools,” said Michael Keister, a student at Hunter College. “We don’t want tuition to go up. We’re talking about reversing it, giving educational opportunities. That’s what makes a country strong.”
Following the courtyard meeting, demonstrators made their way down to Washington Square Park. Joining students from Columbia University, NYU, and CUNY, they marched down to Zuccotti Park. Along the way, they protested not only student-related fiscal issues, but also the recent acts of police brutality at Occupy Oakland.
Tensions between police officers and protesters peaked last Tuesday, after 24-year-old Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen suffered a fractured skull after being shot by a police projectile at Occupy Oakland. Although his status at a Bay Area hospital has been upgraded from critical to fair, widespread outrage against police brutality has developed nationwide.
During the protesters’ march downtown to Zuccotti Park, police stood by on watch the entire time, closely monitoring the situation. When demonstrators ran from the sidewalk into the street, officials immediately took action. One NYPD officer ran over a man’s foot several times with his motorcycle before pulling him up from the street and arresting him.
Within an hour, nearly 200 demonstrators reached Zuccotti Park, joining others in the epicenter of Occupy Wall Street and bringing together student concerns with those of the larger movement.
“As long as we do something, the worst that can happen is that we win small victories,” said Malcolm Culleton, a student at Columbia who participated in the demonstrations. “The worst thing we can be is apathetic.”