US Students Take Over College

The following is reposted from my ally and friend Dana Bennis’s blog on Democratic Education. The student takeover of The New School in Manhattan is an important development that we all need to give our attention to. I will write an analysis soon.

Students at The New School are taking action as I write this (Thursday evening, December 18, 2008) to raise the profile of their objections to The New School President Bob Kerrey and other university leaders, and to call for greater student voice in decision-making.  The students have taken residence in the school cafeteria and have quickly put together a website called New School in Exile,” a New School in Exile blog (which is being updated several times an hour), a Facebook group, and a document (PDF) outlining their position and what they are seeking.  Students are apparently coming and joining from other institutions as well.
I’m still trying to learn the background to this situation and what the issues are.  I’ve generally thought highly of Bob Kerrey, the little I knew of him as a politician and President of The New School.  And while I can’t say I support all the various wishes of the students without learning more, those advocating for democratic education can strongly identify with those that call for greater student voice and socially responsible actions, specifically:
  • Students, faculty, and staff elect the president, EVP, and Provost.
  • Students are part of the interim committee to hire a provost.
  • Intelligible transparency and disclosure of the university budget and investments.
  • The creation of a committee on socially responsible investments.
  • Money towards the creation of an autonomous student space.
  • Money towards scholarships and reducing tuition.
  • Money for the library and student life generally.
Rich Gibson of The Rouge Forum provides some interesting perspective in an email message sent out this evening as an “extra edition” to the regular Rouge Forum Update:
Students at the New School in New York City seized their buildings and are holding out for the demands listed below.
This direct action follows student uprisings in Greece and France in the last ten days and parallels the sit-down action by workers at Chicago’s Republic Works.
The building seizure is precisely along the lines that the Rouge Forum urged for a decade and shows, once again, that student action can spark social resistance–and reasoned analysis– involving poor and working people who hold the power to bring real transformation.
You can find links to coverage and videos of The New School in Exile group at their site and blog, and I’ll look to add updates here as they come.
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

Published by Adam

For almost two decades, Adam F. C. Fletcher has led international outreach focused on engaging people successfully. Working with thousands of youth-serving nonprofits, K-12 schools, government agencies, international NGOs and other organizations around the world, his work spans the fields of education, public health, economic development and social services, and includes professional development, public speaking, publishing, social media and more. He founded the Freechild Institute for Youth Engagement, SoundOut and CommonAction, as well as writing more than 50 publications and 500 articles. He has also established 150-plus community empowerment projects.

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