Thursday, December 18, 2008

Protests abound

Depression's downer is only money-deep. Protests rise aflight defiance.

Saturday, downtowners protest the Department of Transportation's many failures and its indifference to local communities. 40 Worth Street, 1pm

Yesterday, New School students occupied the 65 Fifth Avenue building, calling for the resignation of university President Bob Kerrey who has compromised the great radical legacy of the University in Exile by adopting a profit-generating corporate model for the university and its governance, by participating in the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which promoted the current invasion and occupation of Iraq and, most recently, by appointing himself as interim Provost.

Here's their statement:

Dear Friends,

On 17 December 2008, students, staff, faculty, and supporters held protests and
occupied the 65 Fifth Avenue building of the New School. About 100 people have
remained in the building throughout the night. This is a call for solidarity
and support. Protests and support will continue on Thursday, December 18th, at
65 Fifth Avenue and other New School buildings.

As you may know, the full-time faculty of the New School, have taken a nearly
unanimous vote of no confidence [269 to 8 (with 10 abstentions)] in the
leadership of President Bob Kerrey and Executive Vice President Jim Murtha.
This followed the sudden departure of Provost Joe Westphal, the chief academic
officer of the university, after which the President appointed himself acting
Provost. (He has since admitted this was an error.)

It is UNACCEPTABLE for President Kerrey to appoint himself interim Provost. With
various budgetary and building changes, students face a serious lack of
resources, both technological and academic, directly due to Kerrey's leadership
and his attempt to make the New School a profit-making venture. There is also a
fundamental lack of democratic transparency concerning both the activities of
Bob Kerrey and the Board of Trustees, and not enough input from students,
staff, and faculty.

Bob Kerrey has consistently been completely out of alignment over the past seven
years as President with the history, community, and philosophy upon which the
New School was founded. Amongst other activities, he was a member of the
Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which promoted the current invasion and
occupation of Irag. His participation is the committee was highly contested by
the student, staff, and faculty.

Those protesting are calling for the resignation of Bob Kerrey and the
institution of a direct, democratic participation of the students, staff, and
faculty, in order to guarantee that decisions are made in our best interests
and so that we can once again live up to the legacy of the University in Exile.

Our grievances include:

· Five Provosts in less than eight years is a sign of no institutional
transparency, stability, and accountability. We need an institutional politics
with a system of checks and balances, not one that works at the whim of one

· Kerrey's unilateral appointment of himself as "chief academic officer" is
unacceptable and emblematic of his inability to foster cooperative education.

· The university is being treated as a profit-making venture at whose altar the
requirements of scholarship are routinely sacrificed. We have been
systematically stripped of the most basic resources necessary for academic
excellence, including adequate funding, spaces in which to study and engage
with each other, and a working library. We demand more opportunities for
student funding, and we are willing to work for them. We need public spaces in
which to foster a public sphere and an academic community. The absence of a
serious library and its related resources for research is absolutely
unacceptable and should not even be an issue of contention in an academic

· Academic planning and budgeting should be directed by individuals with a deep
understanding and commitment to academic excellence and free inquiry.

· We have no hand and no say in our fates or the collective fate of our

Please come support the protests at the New School (65 Fifth Avenue) to put an
end to Kerrey's and the other administrator's autocratic approach and
bureaucratic, business model for education. Their activities have been becoming
commonplace at all of our educational institutions. Let's end it now!

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