Monday, March 16, 2009

Taking NYU Back from Sanity

There was a flap recently at NYU, my university, about a student group staging an "occupation" of the student center to protest... well, something. The group, Take Back NYU (TBNYU), had presented the administration with a list of 13 demands and threatened to occupy the cafeteria at the Student Center and stage dweeby hipster freak-ins until their demands were met. The list of demands (which you can see here) went from things such as disclosing NYU's budget and the investment strategy for its endowment to scholarships for 13 Palestinian Students and the donation of surplus University supplies to the Islamic University of Gaza*. The University authorities quite magnanimously allowed the students to stay in the cafeteria overnight on the condition that they not break anything. Incensed by this condition, no doubt, the protesters broke open a door leading out to the balcony and started haranguing passers-by on the street below. Amazingly, the University allowed them one more day at the student center before moving in and expelling the protesters from the cafeteria (although not, regrettably, from the University). A protester (who as it turns out, is not even from NYU!) captured this footage from the last moments of the "occupation": (CAUTION: Video NSFW due to loud swearing. Also make sure you are not drinking a liquid while watching this video, spit-takes are likely)

Regrettably, the protesters could not reach their beloved consensus and were ejected from the building. The NYU students were suspended and stripped of student housing and financial aid. The non-NYU protesters (of whom there appear to be many) were politely show out. Order and sanity was restored to the campus.

I think there are lessons in all of this for aspiring student protesters. First, think your damn demands through properly. The thirteen demands TBNYU presented not only had very little to do with each other, but some of them actively pissed off the student body (opening our already crowded library to the general public, for example). Second, if you are going to make wide-ranging demands that will actually cost this University, make sure all the protesters actually are stakeholders in the University. Many of the TBNYU protesters were students from other schools bussed in to swell the numbers of the occupation. Kids, this isn't rocket science. If there is one thing that is almost certainly guaranteed to piss of the entire student body, it is bums from Muhlenburg College telling us how our University ought to be run. Thirdly, do not come between NYUers and their quesadillas. Surely TBNYU could have thought of a better place to occupy and deny to NYU than the NYU student cafeteria. I mean, you couldn't have pissed off more ordinary students if you were frikking trying to do so. And finally, if you are going to ignore all these things, please, please do not make videos of your dweebiness and put them up on YouTube. This video is now publicly available to anyone who searches YouTube for NYU. People might look at this video and think we're all like this. You are allowed your douchebaggery, but please, we did not sign up to be associated with you consensus-using non-corporate-water-drinking morons.

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