There were plenty of police barricades at the top of Washington Square Park last night. Cops had violently clashed with demonstrators there the week before, and were taking no chances with the “rally/press conference” that Take Back NYU, that protests’ organizers and occupiers of the ill-fated Kimmel Center occupation, was holding last night.
But neither the block-long line of steel partitions nor the fifteen cops we saw on the scene were necessary. The “rally” part of the description basically meant those among the crowd of 80+ who weren’t reporters mildly clapped and cheered after the speakers’ key lines.
Nothing was stormed, occupied, or seized in the name of the people, and there seemed to be little point to the exercise except to keep the group and their issues in the press.
Take Back NYU spokesman (and erstwhile Runnin’ Scared contributor) Duncan Meisel said the group stood by its demands — though it was hardly in a position to enforce them. “We’re still willing to have negotiations,” he said to a smattering of rueful laughter. Meisel said their key demands of financial transparency were hardly radical ideas. “There’s not a student at NYU who does not want to know more about how their money is spent,” he told reporters.
Take Back NYU also stands in support of the 18 students who were suspended for their role in the occupation. These students are negotiating their suspension terms with NYU official, and legally advised to shut up, though student Frank Marangiello read a wan, poetical joint statement about how their “love for NYU increases our desire for it to become a better place.”
Student Senator Caitlin Boehne said she’d tried to use the “legitimate means” of student government to obtain financial information, but had been rebuffed, necessitating the drastic methods of last week. Andrew Ross, chairman of NYU’s department of social and cultural analysis, said that gesturally the protest has been “more successful than you imagine” and enjoyed wide support among the faculty, more than 200 of which have signed a petition to that effect.
Next steps are vague; Meisel said that the group is “holding meetings” to consider the “lessons learned” in the protest.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 25, 2009