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Issue 6, November 30 - December 13, 2011
Behind the Writing on the Wall:
What Actually Happened Inside the All-City Occupation The Lang Science Department — An Experiment The Opinions Section: Occupied
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Editor in Chief Managing Editor
3 4 6 7 8 9
The Sheikh and I
How to (not) make a film with Caveh Zahedi
Occupy The New School
What went down at 90 Fifth Ave.
Death of an Institution
Cooper Union considers tuition
[News] Rey Mashayehki [Arts & Culture] Elisabeth Sherman [Opinions] Kimberly Lightbody [Photography] Courtney Stack [Copy] Ashley Chervinski
Dissecting a Science Department
The mystery department at Lang
The Making of a Literary Magazine The New Youth of AA
Critics, poets and essayists come together to tell the story of The New School Examining the rise of teenagers in Alcoholics Anonymous
Chris Hooks, Jill Heller, Michael Kaplan, Eric Fernandez, Cal Stamp, Harrison Golden
Opinions Section: 10 Theoutsider’s perspective-Occupiedsuccessfully handled the occupation An how DVZ A statement from the occupiers 11 Two Different Perspectives and a note from DVZ Done 12 Get it lists from New School students To-do
Ada Akad, Danielle Balbi, Stephany Chung, Lara Hannawi, Emily Katz, Aaron Light, Brianna Lyle, Joey Mulkerin, Richard Rabeau, Andrea Vocos
Amanda Aschettino, Courtney Stack
Heather Chaplin, Andrew Meier
I feel like a crotchety man yelling from the sidelines. It’s your show and I respect how you’ve handled it. But because I’ve devoted three years to the paper I think I’ve earned the right to give you an honest critique of how it’s changed. I’ve told the current board before that I like the idea behind the redesign. Readers now have different news habits and organizations need to adapt to that. Since most people now get breaking news online, print publications need to shift their breaking coverage to the web and their print product into a longer analytical form that helps readers digest the constant stream of data they’re bombarded with. But in the last issue, the redesign looked like a huge gamble that fell short. The layout is full of small mistakes (a proud NSFP tradition) and the graphic choices seem arbitrary. If you put so much emphasis on graphic design, you must execute. The many small mistakes and shortfalls throughout the issue give it a garbled voice that comes off as amateur. It has no banner, which I think is indicative of how the redesign shredded the brand and whatever gravity that the paper had before. And I think a lot of the alumni dislike the redesign because that brand was totally abandoned. Sure, it’s purely sentimental; we nurtured the identity of the paper for years. But it was also a symbol that told people that we should be taken seriously. The three fonts are also odd, and again, I like the idea behind it. But right now, it looks cheesy and contributes to the garbled voice/brand. The idea is really smart: distinguish different sections in subtle ways. But because they are all so distinct, it confuses the voice. Within each section, it’s negligible, but when they’re all next to each other like on the front page, it looks like a flyer for a 1920s themed 8th grade dance. There are a lot of other little things, but there always are so it’s not fair to nit pick. The two things I mentioned above best represent the problem with the redesign. The Free Press looks like Inprint and the Lang Student Dispatch, two slapdash papers the alumni tried really hard to distinguish themselves from. Both wanted to be very graphic and lacked cohesion which sunk their brand/voice. Don’t take this to mean I want you to do things the way we did them. Progress is good, but this progress looks like a regression to something that a lot of us tried to be better than. -Aidan Gardiner, The New School Free Press News Editor 2008-2011
Letter to the Editor
Additional Faculty Editors
Charles Taylor, Josh Karant
The New School Free Press
Published by the Eugene Lang College Literary Studies Department. 65 W. 11th St. Room 458 New York, NY 10011
The old editorial board of The New School Free Press prided itself on giving the newspaper an “identity.” They had reason to be proud — compared to what the newspaper had once been, they transformed it into a coherent and informative publication, one with a solid readership and a respectable reputation. But when the new editorial board took over the newspaper, we quickly realized that its “identity” wasn’t working anymore. The articles were well-written and the design was professional, but there was an inherent problem: every two weeks, we published a paper that appeared to hold breaking news, but that, in reality, held articles that were outdated and irrelevant by the time they were read. Logistically, we couldn’t make our newspaper a daily, or even a weekly. So we did this. The redesign of The New School Free Press may have “shredded the brand” that the old board built. But that was the point. Our print publication now contains only a few longer, in-depth feature articles, while our website is updated daily with shorter, more timely stories. While everything that we publish — on web and in print — is still important and informative, our layout needs to mirror the type of paper that we are. We can’t masquerade as a daily newspaper with breaking news when, in fact, our print content is now much more magazine-ey. The redesign of our paper is not a regression. It represents, rather, our growth as a publication We no longer look like a daily newspaper that focuses on spot news. We look like what we are: a bi-weekly newspaper with long feature stories.
w w w. M y D o n o r . n e t
The opinions expressed heirein are those of individual writers and not of The New School Free Press. Please send any letters or submissions to nsfreepress@gmail. com. The New School Free Press does not publish unsigned letters. Letters & submissions will be edited for length and clarity. The New School Free Press is not responsible for unpublished letters or submissions.
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The current editorial board spent a substantial amount of time deciding how to change the design of our newspaper. It was a not a decision that we took lightly. We regret that certain members of the old editorial board aren’t happy with the current New School Free Press, especially considering how much their efforts helped us get where we are. But our new newspaper is a definite step in the right direction, in terms of both content and design. The New School Free Press has finally entered the 21st century of journalism. We moved to the web, and we launched an overhaul of our print edition. That overhaul merited a facelift — one that would make us look more like a news magazine, and less like a pseudoNew York Times. -Kimberly Lightbody, The New School Free Press Opinions Editor
Front page photos: top: Daisy Geoffrey, bottom: Andrea Vocos
Egg Donation...With Care
CHRIS HOOKS Reporting by Eric Fernandez & Aaron Light
t is hard to understand why the curators of the Sharjah Art Foundation in the United Arab Emirates commissioned New School professor and l’enfant terrible of American independent cinema Caveh Zahedi to create a film for the Sharjah Biennial, a cornerstone of contemporary art in the Middle East. Surely someone along the line would realize that the auteur behind the autobiographical “I Am a Sex Addict” would be an ill-fitting choice for the most important cultural event in the Emirates, a conservative autocracy most famous for its extravagant wealth and human rights abuses. But commission they did. With the promise of $15,000, money from the Emir of Sharjah himself, Zahedi left New York in the dead of winter for the arid Gulf State. With New School students in tow as interns and production assistants, he set out to make a movie about the experience of making a movie in Sharjah. One year later and the film is banned in the United Arab Emirates, having never been shown at the biennial it was commissioned for. Zahedi and his crew have been threatened with arrest if they return. A year-long legal battle about the rights to his surviving footage has only recently been resolved in his favor. Now, the director is working on a feature-length version of his story; a movie about censorship, politics, religion and filmmaking itself. “I think they thought that because of my name, I would know what to do and what not to do in a country like that,” Zahedi, an Iranian-American, said. “I didn’t.” When Zahedi accepted the gig, the curators gave him three guidelines he was required to follow: no frontal nudity, no mockery of the prophet Muhammed, and no derision towards the government of the U.A.E. or Sheik Sultan bin Muhammad alQasimi of Sharjah — who funded the biennial and whose daughter, the Sheikha, ran it. “They didn’t make it sound severe at all. They made it sound like I could do whatever I wanted, if I avoided a few specific things,” Zahedi said recently in the basement of a brownstone in Carroll Gardens, where he lives with his wife and son. “It sounded like I might have to cut certain scenes for the biennial, but that I could do whatever I wanted with my own footage.” It’s fair to say that Zahedi followed the prohibition against nudity to the letter. But in the finished product, “Plot for a Biennial,” the director first bumps against, and then steamrolls, the second two directives, identifying almost every kind of political and cultural sensitivity he can and confronting them full-force. Just a few of the highlights: a row of Indian kids, the children of migrant laborers, dance the cancan to the Islamic call to prayer. A Palestinian working with the biennial describes pervasive racism in the Emirates. In one scene, Zahedi convinces a local Sharjah resident, after a great deal of coaxing, to play Sheikh al-Qasimi, the Sharjah bigwig, in an elaborately staged kidnapping plot, after which, in one iteration, the Sheikh comes to his senses and changes the labor laws of Sharjah — a sore spot with the country’s ruling elite, as Human Rights Watch accuses the U.A.E. of exposing migrant workers to “severe exploitation and abuse.” Closer to home, Zahedi shows how the Sheikh’s daughter, who ostensibly helps run the prestigious art foundation, is never actually in her office. Day after day, her
The Films of Zahedi
I Don’t Hate Las Vegas Anymore (1994) In the beginning,
Zahedi calls this film “an experiment in faith” and an attempt to prove that God exists by documenting a trip to Las Vegas with his estranged father and halfbrother. The film drew flack for one scene in particular, in which Zahedi tries to convince his dad and brother to take ecstasy with him on camera. Whether or not Zahedi succeeds in fulfilling the lofty metaphysical goals he sets for the film is anyone’s guess.
The Sheikh and Caveh Zahedi
In the Bathtub of the World (2001) A video diary based
on the concept of filming one minute every day of 1999 and editing the results down to 90 minutes, the film shows Zahedi at his most playful and whimsical, but also his most narcissistic and self-indulgent. One minute minating in taking ecstasy he’s worrying about a myste- with his wife on new year’s rious indent in his forehead, eve, moments before the new millennium. Zahedi’s the next he’s at Sundance ladaily life isn’t consistently menting not being able to meet interesting enough to warMichael Stipe in the bathroom rant an hour and a half of when he had the chance, all culone’s undivided attention,
secretary offers the same excuse: the Sheikha is “praying.” So it’s unsurprising that the film wasn’t warmly received when Zahedi submitted a cut to the festival. First, the film was banned. Then, the director and his crew were banned from the country, along with his student assistants, and threatened with arrest if he returned. The U.A.E. is one of five Muslim-majority countries that has the death penalty for blasphemy, the likely charge. But Sharjah foundation officials weren’t content to merely prevent the film from being shown at the festival. At first, the foundation demanded that all scenes referring to the Sharjah Art Foundation or the Sheikh be deleted, which would have constituted the majority of the movie. Eventually, Zahedi and the foundation worked out a settlement
yet, in it’s own way, the film is significant for being ahead of its time: a precursor to the deluge of video blogs that have since become ubiquitous in modern society by way of sites like Youtube.
“I Am a Sex Addict” cles his longtime addiction (2005) Zahedi’s most to prostitutes and the havfully realized film, I am a Sex Addict took 15 years to make. By way of reenactments, home movies, candid confessions and animation, Zahedi chronioc his perpetual honesty about it wreaked on his marriages and relationships.
affecting personal testimonial: some of the film’s most memorable scenes concern his son, Beckett. And it’s a playful postmodern meta-narrative about filmmaking. Zahedi has talked in multiple venues, most notably the 2001 Richard Linklater movie “Waking Life,” about the ‘holy moment:’ André Bazin’s idea that filmmaking at its best is a transcendental — and religious — phenomenon. Film is Zahedi’s religion, and one he takes seriously. “Filmmaking is a release for me, and it’s hugely important to me personally,” he said. “Nothing irritates me more than people getting in the way of my movies.” The United Arab Emirates comes across, then, as a place specifically designed to frustrate the director. Over the course of the movie, Zahedi systematically fails to be able to
Caveh Zahedi and his son Beckett, a main character in his new film “The Sheikh and I,” at their home in Carroll Gardens.
which allowed him to keep his footage. Now, Zahedi is working on a feature-length movie about his experience in the U.A.E., the making of the movie, and the fight afterward. On November 11, he screened a rough cut of the new movie, “The Sheikh and I,” for his Lang contemporary cinema class, his lawyer in tow. he Sheikh and I” is a wholly remarkable film. Instead of an hour-long piece for a biennial, unlikely to be seen much again, Zahedi has wrested from the experience a deeply layered and involving piece of filmmaking. It is a documentary, in a way, about the Emirates. It’s also an practice his religion, stymied by officials, unwilling participants, and a host of cultural conventions. “The Sheikh and I”’s true value is not simply that it says disparaging, and often true, things about the Emirates — for example, that racism is a widespread problem. The problem the film poses to the Emir is precisely that it shows that no one is allowed to say that racism is a problem. As Yassan, the Palestinian biennial employee, says in the movie, in countries with no freedom of speech, “no one is allowed to say there is no freedom of speech.”
ut for all of the remarkable
things “The Sheikh and I” has to say about life in the Gulf states, the film took a toll on many of the people it touched. Perhaps the most important question the movie poses to its viewers: What is the ethical responsibility of an artist operating in an authoritarian state? First, Zahedi employed dozens of Sharjah residents — from all different backgrounds — to act as extras in his movie, and he talked to a great many people about life in the Emirates. Now that the film is known to the government, Zahedi and his American assistants are safely overseas. But the impact on the others of taking part in what is seen by the authorities as a blasphemous and treasonous venture is unclear. At the very least, many involved feel personally betrayed. “They’re all furious,” Zahedi said. The director added that he was surprised by the hostile feedback he received from some of the film’s participants. Rasha Salti, the curator who originally invited Zahedi to take part in the biennial, is troubled by the effect the movie has had on its participants. “Caveh never realized how many people’s feelings he hurt in Sharjah,” she said in an email. “He never wanted to acknowledge that they felt manipulated and betrayed by him.” Zahedi also said that he doesn’t know what has happened to any of the people he filmed in the movie. He said he has been advised not to try to contact them, as his emails would likely be read by the authorities. Some actors are more vulnerable than others. Of particular concern to Zahedi — and to the viewer — is a Pakistani migrant, Mansour, who serves as Zahedi’s driver. It is Mansour who Yassan speaks of when describing the pervasive racism in the Emirates, and he also takes part in the scenes involving the kidnapping of the fake Sheik. But others stand to be negatively affected, as well, including Yassan and Zahedi’s translator, Camille. In one scene that is difficult to watch, Yassan tries to warn Zahedi against using an actor to portray Sheik Qasimi while being surreptitiously recorded by the crew. Yassan proceeds to give his most damning indictments of life in the Emirates. Zahedi
said his cameraman misunderstood the order to stop recording — but he still put the footage in his movie. Camille, a Canadian convert to Islam, was mortified at being part of a movie he felt mocked his religion. He’s currently seeking residency in the U.A.E., his application may be affected by the film. Salti remains immensely frustrated and regretful about the situation. “I carry the burden of failure that the invitation to Caveh eventually turned out to be,” she said. “I regretted every moment I trusted Caveh.” et even though “The Sheikh and I” is at times uncomfortable to watch, it’s impossible to avert your eyes. While Zahedi and his crew were in Sharjah that winter, protests in Tunisia and Algeria, ostensibly triggered by rising food prices, were picking up pace and attracting scattered media attention in the west. After they had returned to the States, the Arab Spring came into full bloom. The Gulf states have proved mostly impervious to the wave of popular protests. With indefatigable reserves of foreign currency, the Emirates have been able to attract high-profile Western cultural institutions — a branch of the Guggenheim, the Louvre, an NYU campus in Abu Dhabi — while masking the autocracy within. Zahedi’s movie poses an excellent and well-timed challenge to the hollow, fake openness of the Gulf States. Zahedi is confident that he made the right decisions, and said he has received positive feedback from other filmmakers. Alan Berliner, the documentary filmmaker, told Zahedi that “you did everything you were supposed to do as an artist. The fact that they banned it just means you hit the bulls eye.” Bahman Kiarostami, filmmaker and son of legendary Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, was more passionate in his support. “It is an honor to be banned by those Emirati bastards,” he said.
Photos by Eric Fernandez
[News] 4 The Glorious Rise and Ignominious Fall of a Student Occupation
The view from 90 Fifth Ave. on the Day of Action as protesters flooded 14th Street
MILES KOHRMAN, KIMBERLY LIGHTBODY, REY MASHAYEKI Reporting by Danielle Balbi & Stephany Chung
n Tuesday, November 22, Kellen Auditorium was filled to full capacity as members of the New School community turned up for a public forum, organized by President David Van Zandt, regarding the student occupation at 90 Fifth Ave. Before the meeting had even begun, security guards were ushering attendees into an overflow room next door, where they could watch the forum on a live video feed. Tensions were high as Van Zandt prepared to address the crowded room, facing his most difficult test yet as president of The New School. Since November 17, students from universities throughout New York City had been occupying The New School’s Student Study Center, influenced by the Occupy Wall Street movement that has swept across the country. As part of a student-organized “Day of Action,” thousands had converged on Union Square before marching over to Fifth Avenue, where dozens of students entered the New School building at 90 Fifth Ave. There, they took control of the Student Study Center’s second floor and announced the third occupation of a New School building in three years. Optimistic and energized, the occupiers hoped to transform the Student Study Center into a space where people could openly discuss economic issues pertaining to students, organize political actions, and launch a national student movement. But five days into the occupation, as Van Zandt stood in front of more than a hundred people in Kellen Auditorium, it was clear that the occupation of 90 Fifth Ave. had divided the university. An overwhelming majority of the students who spoke at the public forum were opposed to the occupation, and many expressed anger at the administration for allowing it to continue. While a number of the students there said that they supported OWS and had initially supported the occupation, they were dismayed by the turn of events at the Student Study Center. What had begun as a widely-supported and inclusive movement had, somehow, devolved into a tense, convoluted, and unpopular situation.
found itself host to a citywide group of student activists. The hope was that the Student Study Center would become “a hub for a genuine student movement of the sort that really hasn’t existed in the United States since the ’60s,” said NSSR student Dan Boscov-Ellen, who was involved in the occupation. As the protesters settled into the Student Study Center, they prepared the space for a lengthy occupation, placing a large table at the landing of the second-floor escalator to serve first as a barricade, and, later, as an information desk. They plastered signs to the
was to create an autonomous space to facilitate political discussion and organization, as well as have radical and experimental forms of education that were all-inclusive and open to the public,” said NSSR student Erin Schell, who was active in organizing the occupation. “There was a desire to push the Occupy movement forward by contributing to the creation of a strong student movement.” The occupiers held a number of GAs over the next few days, although a press freeze barred reporters from the occupied floor and forbid any recording or photography. Several
The sound of sirens and helicopters flooded the airspace surrounding the New School campus
Masked students hurdled down flights of stairs to let more people into the building via the freight elevator entrance of the study center on 14th Street.
windows and hung large banners out of the building. “The Zuccotti Virus has spread,” read one hand-painted banner, billowing above the building’s entrance on Fifth Avenue. “This is an Occupied Building,” said another, posted in a window over 14 Street. “Join Us. Take Back That Which is Already Yours.” That first night, about 80 students gathered on the second floor of the Student Study Center. Sitting on tables and chairs, they quickly adopted the General Assembly model, a democratic decision-making process that the OWS movement has used since it began in September. The All-City Student Occupation then held its first General Assembly in 90 Fifth Ave. to discuss the intent of the occupation and how the occupiers would move forward. “The initial goal behind this occupation teach-ins and programs rooted in sociopolitical and economic discourse also took place. During one discussion, the far-left French politician Olivier Besancenot delivered a harsh critique of capitalism; another day, Paul Mattick, a philosophy professor from Adelphi University, gave a talk titled “Demystifying the Economic Crisis.” “There were some days when I thought [eviction from the space] was imminent,” said Aaron Jaffe, an NSSR student who was involved in the occupation. “Other days, I thought we were doing such constructive work that anyone with a social conscience would be crazy to evict us.”
building, blocking the doors to prevent more students from entering. Shortly after, President Van Zandt and Provost Tim Marshall arrived at the scene with a delegation of New School faculty and administration. As protesters celebrated in the Student Study Center, Van Zandt spoke with a small group of occupiers at the top of the escalators. They quickly reached an agreement and, per the administration’s request, the police were called off. It was decided that the matter would be handled internally by the university and that, for the time being, the occupiers could stay in the space — so long as they did not damage property, disrupt student access to the study space, or violate fire codes. The building would be kept open 24/7, and the lights and heat would stay on through the night. “I think they’re carrying themselves in an excellent light,” Van Zandt told The Free Press on the night of the occupation. “I’m very proud, actually.” Van Zandt’s attitude surprised many, especially those who were at The New School during Bob Kerrey’s presidency. In April 2009, Kerrey’s intolerance toward the student occupiers of the now-demolished building at 65 Fifth Ave. led to NYPD interventon and a number of student arrests. Van Zandt, however, appeared determined to ensure that the situation at 90 Fifth Ave. reached a peaceful conclusion. But by the following Tuesday, problems had arisen between the administration and the landlord of 90 Fifth Ave., real estate tycoon Aby Rosen’s RFR Holding LLC. At the public forum on November 22, Van Zandt announced that the fire marshal had issued a citation to The New School for breaking fire codes in the Student Study Center. The landlord, meanwhile, had issued a notice of default to the university for breaching its lease — a possible precursor to legal action that could evict The New School from the building entirely. “Normally, they don’t do that unless they want you out,” said Van Zandt to The Free Press after the forum. “But they haven’t filed a lawsuit yet.”
he most significant chapter of the New School community’s involvement in the OWS movement began on a rainy Thursday, only two days after the NYPD evicted occupiers from Zuccotti Park. The sound of sirens and helicopters flooded the airspace surrounding The New School campus as, across the city, students marched and rallied in support of OWS. By that afternoon, The New School had
s the week wore on, the occupation found itself increasingly isolated from the rest of the student community at The New School. A number of students were upset that valuable study space was being occupied, especially as finals drew near, and were angered by the vandalism inside the Student Study Center. At the public forum on November 22, many of them complained and lamented the fact that Van Zandt was letting the occupiers destroy the space. One student, who did not identify himself, had taken uring the first hour of the occupation photos of the graffiti inside the occupation on November 17, when hundreds of protest- and read some of what had been scrawled on ers were still rallying on the street in front of the walls. 90 Fifth Avenue, police stood in front of the “Fuck peace, it’s boring. Let’s fuck shit up,”
“You have some people who see radical action almost as an end in itself; that by creating this anti-capitalist space, that’s an end in itself and there’s no need to consider how our actions look to the outside world and to people who don’t already agree with our viewpoints,” said one NSSR student involved in the occupation. “And then there are other people who understood this as an opportunity to build a larger student movement that brings people on board based on our common interests and grievances, and connect the problems we face as students to those of society in general.”
he read. “A kid that tells is a dead pig.” The atmosphere inside the Student Study Center seemed to be growing increasingly radical, and even those who had participated in the occupation from the beginning felt that it had fallen into the hands of a select few who were not interested in political inclusiveness. Many students said that they supported OWS and wanted to participate in the occupation, but felt intimidated by the atmosphere inside 90 Fifth Ave. “It was the most uncomfortable situation I’ve ever been in,” said one student at the public forum, a Lang student who did not give her name. “It’s an experience that frightens me. They’re unwelcoming to other students. I’m torn — I supported OWS from the beginning, but I don’t support this.” To some, it seemed that the original goals of the occupation had been co-opted by an exclusive group of students with an extreme political agenda. Rather than fostering an open dialogue and discussing ways to engage with the greater student movement, they appeared to be promoting their own ideologies. Eventually, this exclusive attitude manifested itself in the occupation’s relationship with other student organizations around the city. After attending a heated GA at 90 Fifth Ave. on November 21, a group of “autonomous” CUNY students The alternative space was the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery at 2 W. 13th St. The gallery was to be used as a “free, open space for dialogue and debate,” said Van Zandt in an email to the university community explaining the decision. The space would be kept open 24 hours a day, and would serve as a platform to continue the discourse being held at 90 Fifth Ave. Van Zandt put forth specific terms for the occupiers’ use of Kellen Gallery. It was to be “kept clean and free of property damage,” students would not be able to sleep in the space, and it would only be available to them until December 22 — the end of the semester. The decision regarding whether to accept Van Zandt’s offer was brought to the General Assembly in 90 Fifth Ave. that Tuesday night. The GA overwhelmingly decided on moving to the new space at the Kellen Gallery, contingent on the administration approving a number of amendments to the proposal made by the occupiers. “It’s not about the space, it’s about the connections that we’ve made with people,” said Boscov-Ellen. “Having a space to organize is important, so we’ll see what happens with this new space; whether it becomes this bureaucratic space that’s controlled by the administration, or whether it can be used temporarily to figure out
An occupier barricades the escalator entrance to 90 Fifth Ave.
not have trusted negotiations with the president of The New School about the security and the character of this occupation.” Despite repeated attempts, those remaining in 90 Fifth Avenue declined to comment. That same day, Van Zandt sent out an email to the community acknowledging that the administration had “learned that a small group of protesters is considering not accepting the [General Assembly] resolution.” The email suggested that if The New School was to stay faithful to its mission of providing a “safe and non-violent environment for all,” it would be “imperative that the Study Center be returned to its intended use and the terms of last night’s resolution be honored.” The occupation turned one week old on November 24, at which point the a small group of occupiers remained at the Student Study Center, even as others had begun moving into Kellen Gallery. Late that night, the Autonomous Occupation of 90 Fifth Ave. released another statement on their website entitled “Attack Us If You Dare,” which suggested that they had received information that the police were preparing to forcibly remove them from the space early the next day. “Unwilling to sacrifice our dignity by surrendering a space we have taken and transformed with full legitimacy, we have chosen to barricade all entrances to this space and will defend it by all means available to us,” the statement read. By noon on Friday, the occupation was over — but not at the hands of the NYPD, who were never called. At some point that morning, the student occupiers of 90 Fifth Ave. discretely left the building. But one block away, Kellen Gallery was covered with graffiti, tagged and trashed at the hands of unknown perpetrators. In the days after it ended, the university community tried to make sense of the occupation. Nidhi Srinivas, a management professor at Milano who observed and participated in the events at 90 Fifth Ave., described how his opinion of the occupation changed over the week. While initially enthusiastic about its potential, Srinivas became increasingly demoralized as the occupation dragged on and it devolved into an exclusive and divisive environment. “They were not very good at recognizing a classic notion of politics that is unique to The New School, which is from [Hannah] Arendt: that politics is a form of inclusion, of a way to bring groups together,” he said. “They didn’t make any effort to do this. And I don’t blame this on the people who taught them — I think they were just bad students.”
drafted an open letter to the All-City Student Occupation, which was posted on the CUNY General Assembly’s website. The letter described the GA as “one of the most disrespectful, antagonistic and aggressive General Assemblies that any of us had witnessed or been subject to before,” and called into question “the highly undemocratic nature of what appeared to be a shadow decisionmaking body within the ‘All-City Student Occupation.’” Some of the New School occupiers shared this sentiment, and were similarly disappointed with the direction that the occupation had taken. “What began as a cross-university student occupation of a Student Study Center... has turned into a political spectacle as a small clique of people attempted to impose a bizarre, messianic insurrectionary authoritarianism upon everyone in the occupation,” wrote Chris Crews, a USS Senator and student at NSSR who participated in the occupation, on his website. As some occupiers became increasingly vocal and outspoken about their politics, the tenor of the occupation grew estranged from that of the wider student movement. ven after the landlord of 90 Fifth Ave. began taking legal action against The New School and threatened to evict the university from the building, Van Zandt remained committed to resolving the occupation internally. At the public forum, he announced that he had asked the occupiers to vacate the Student Study Center, but would offer the occupation an alternative space to continue student-led organizing.
a way forward.” Yet the general assembly’s vote proved to be a point of contention among the occupiers. As one group was willing to relocate to the Kellen Gallery, another was determined to stand their ground and continue to fight for the occupied space in 90 Fifth Ave. It was indicative of a greater ideological divide that had emerged within the occupation, and one that would split the occupying students into two distinct camps. “You have some people who see radical action almost as an end in itself; that by creating this anti-capitalist space, that’s an end in itself and there’s no need to consider how our actions look to the outside world and to people who don’t already agree with our viewpoints,” said one NSSR student involved in the occupation, who did not want to be identified due to the ongoing tensions at play between the occupiers. “And then there are other people who understood this as an opportunity to build a larger student movement that brings people on board based on our common interests and grievances, and connect the problems we face as students to those of society in general – which Occupy Wall Street is addressing right now.” “I think that this fundamental disagreement as to the purpose of the occupation is what ultimately caused it to fall apart at the end,” the student added. n November 23, the group of occupiers who were determined to stay in 90 Fifth Ave. released a statement, under the name “Autonomous Occupation of 90 Fifth Avenue,” saying it was “clear that we should
Photos by Courtney Stack
MICHAEL KAPLAN Reporting by Danielle Balbi & Stephany Chung
or many students at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, the century-old tuition-free policy is as integral to an education as textbooks, pens and paper are at other universities. At a time when students across the country are facing rising tuition costs, and the Occupy Wall Street movement has vowed to combat student debt, the Cooper Union community is beginning to organize in order to protect what they see as their school’s founding purpose: a merit-based education that ignores the financial means of its applicants. On November 7, chairman of the board of trustees Mark Epstein held an open forum to address student, faculty and alumni anger at the suggestion that the school may be forced to overturn its 109-year-old merit-based full scholarship in order to cope with a $16.5 million budget deficit. Although it began charging tuition to those who could afford it in 1856, the institution eliminated tuition altogether in 1902 in order to allow for a non-discriminatory acceptance policy. “If [the full scholarship] is removed from the equation, Cooper Union is just another unaffordable educational option looming on the distant, unreachable horizon for the vast number of bright, even brilliant students in both science and art,” said alumnus Dan Witz, who graduated from Cooper Union in 1980 and is now a street artist and realist painter. Witz, as well as several other alumni interviewed by The Free Press, mentioned that art school would not have been a viable option if not for Cooper Union’s tuition-free policy. “If [I] had to toe the line and pay heavy bills like everyone else these days, I probably would have chosen a different career path.” To many students and faculty of Cooper Union, the possibility of implementing tuition came as a surprise — it was their impression that the institution had sidestepped the 2008 financial crisis that crippled many other universities. “The fact that Cooper has been operating at a large deficit for this long came as a surprise to almost everyone,” wrote Andrew Leader, an engineering student, in an email to The Free Press. Administrators at the institution declined to comment to The New School Free Press. However, Jolene Travis, the assistant director of public affairs and media relations, referred us to current President Jamshed Bharucha’s online message. “This is a structurally unsustainable financial model, and we must act immediately to put our institution on the path to a sustainable future,” he wrote. As for other options, Bharucha told Art in America magazine that a number of other possibilities are on the table. “Obviously we’ll strengthen our fundraising, though that isn’t easy in this economic environment.” While sustaining a tuition-free education has proven to be difficult, plans to begin tuition implementation are indefinite and unspecific. Legally, those currently enrolled in the institution cannot be subjected to tuition. “This isn’t about the students who are going here now,” explained student activist and art student Joe Riley, who has been rallying students against the proposed tuition. “This really goes to show that what we’re fighting for now is the future of the school, for the stu-
As Free as Air and Water Could Tuition Signal the Death of Cooper Union?
dents who have yet to go to Cooper.” However, Clarence Michalis, who sat on the board of trustees for 28 years, serving as the chairman for 10 of those years, is uncertain how serious the plans to charge tuition are. He mentioned that the board of trustees has regularly considered the idea during financial scares, until alternative solutions arise. “[In the past,] we slimmed the school down and tightened things up,” Michalis explained to The Free Press. “It was not only a top priority for the board of trustees to avoid charging tuition, but also an emotional issue for the alumni.” Though Michalis, who retired from the board of trustees more than two decades ago, now only has limited involvement with the school, he believes that administrators at the institution may be able to avoid charging tuition by thinking up other and more tolerable solutions as has been done in the past. Cooper Union has often faced financial troubles over the past four decades. However, in recent years the school’s revenue has been diminishing, while its spending has increased compared to past decades. Many students have pointed blame at the former president and the board of trustees. “I think [there is] a long-term problem with how finances are handled at the school and in this particular crisis, it’s a mishandling of finances by the board of trustees,” explained Joe Riley, an art student and student until 2009, which replaced two older and outdated buildings. Such spending, some believe, ultimately led to the current crisis. Many students have reported the new building to be underused and unnecessary at a time when the institution should be tightening up its spending. “Most engineering students think that this building is unnecessary because we used to study across the street in a building that had more of a sense of community, and this one is very isolated,” said Angela Park, a senior engineering student. In 2006 the school borrowed $175 million in bonds in order to pay for the construction of the new building, according to The New York Times. However, Epstein pointed the blame in the opposite direction during the November 7 town hall meeting. “Only 20 percent of alumni donate and that’s a failed investment,” Epstein said, according to The Villager. In a claim that angered attendees, he continued, “Four out of five students in this room will become part of the problem when they graduate.” Cooper Union has, for a long time, had difficulty raising funds from alumni, many of whom are struggling artists. Some previous donors who spoke to The Free Press refused to fund the school during the decade of Campbell’s presidency. “Cooper relies heavily on outside donations, and people don’t donate when they
Art courtesy of Cooper Union students, photo by Courtney Stack
“Blame or not to blame?” asked Toby Cumberbatch, an engineering professor who has taught at Cooper Union since 1994, in an email to The Free Press. “Until we know how Cooper Union got to this state I don’t think this question can be answered. I do believe that engagement of the entire Cooper Union community in finding a solution to the current deficit and finding a sustainable way forwards can only be achieved by a full disclosure and transparent explanation of the events that brought us to this current situation.” Many students, faculty members and alumni assert that tuition is simply not an option they are willing to accept. “When people talk about tuition, I think they think it is about money,” explained Toby Cumberbatch, an engineering professor who has taught at the college since 1994. “But when you talk about tuition and Cooper [Union], it has nothing to do with the actual cash. It’s about all the other intangible assets associated with no tuition.” Every faculty member, student, alumnus, and past administrator who The Free Press spoke with agreed that it is Cooper Union’s merit-based free-education that makes it the prestigious institution that it is. Because of its high number of applicants, Cooper Union accepts only 9 percent of those who apply, making it one of the most competitive schools in the country. The school claims to accept only the most deserving students, regardless of their economic status, race, gender, or religion. In 2010, Newsweek named it the “#1 Most Desirable Small School,” a title that would likely disappear in the event that its policy of fully funding students disappears. Students have vowed to resist the implementation of tuition, though holding off any large-scale action until the situation becomes more clear. “Right now we are waiting to see what develops next but we are prepared as a student body to escalate the sort of actions we’ve already carried out,” commented Riley, a Cooper Union student who helped organize a walk-out on November 2. Students have staged small-scale protests, walk-outs, disruptions during administrative speeches, and distributed petitions. Alumni have been involved as well. “Many of us alumni have been writing back and forth to one another, signing petitions, sending letters, and so on,” explained alumnus Dan Witz, who graduated from Cooper Union in 1981 and is now a street artist. “I’ve been obsessing over this since I received an email from my alma mater a week or two ago, and was immediately enraged about the mere suggestion that the school might discontinue its tuition-free policy.” While some students maintained that they will ultimately accept tuition if there is no other option, a few insisted that they would prefer for the school to end rather than deviate from its founding mission of offering an education to the most worthy of it, regardless of their economic status. Alumnus Jean Marcellino, who graduated in 1960 and is now a successful artist, said in an email interview, “Cooper Union must remain tuition free, and there is absolutely no other option worthy of consideration. If money must be raised, then it must be found elsewhere. If it comes to an end, it must end.”
Students assemble to discuss the potential tuition at Cooper Union.
activist against tuition. Though unpopular for his lack of transparency and wasteful spending by many students and alumni, former President Campbell, who stepped down last year, was praised by administrators for avoiding a financial meltdown several years ago. “The college owes [Mr. Campbell] an immense debt of gratitude,” Mark Epstein, chairman of the board at Cooper Union, told Crain’s New York Business News in 2010 as President Campbell stepped down as the school’s president. “What comes to mind is how strong The Cooper Union has become under President Campbell’s transformational leadership and how our long standing reputation for academic excellence has continued to grow.” However, not everyone thought Campbell did such a great job, and many students blamed him and the board of trustees for unnecessary spending, particularly for the $166 million project to construct a new academic building at 41 Cooper Square from 2006 don’t know where their money is going,” wrote Andrew Leader, an engineering student, in an email to The Free Press. The school has also suffered due to low revenue because of the city’s real estate market, one of Cooper Union’s key sources of income in the past. Among several estates in New York City, Cooper Union owns the land beneath the Chrysler Building, which provides about $7 million each year. Furthermore, as with other schools in recent years, the institution has received less government support than in previous decades. A detailed explanation for the current financial situation, which is likely the result of multiple factors, is yet to emerge. Some student activists who spoke with The Free Press, such as Riley, have made accusations of administrative cover-ups and mismanagement of funds, and are calling for an immediate inquiry. Others maintain that now is not the time to point fingers, until the results of a full investigation are presented.
HARRISON GOLDEN Reporting by Danielle Balbi & Lara Hannawi
Dissecting a Science Department
students have been given credit-based opportunities to conduct research with programs like Harlem’s Children’s Project, EngenderHealth, and Doctors Without Borders. For students like Brittany Fowle, who came to Lang unsure about her major, the discussions and hands-on experience instantly caught her eye. After walking into her freshman science seminar, featuring discussions about urban sprawl and climate change, she decided to major in environmental studies. Despite not majoring in interdisciplinary science, the classes she has taken through the department have helped her make more sense of the scientific world. “[Lang] is very successful in giving qualitative characteristics to subjects that are traditionally quantitative,” said Fowle, a sophomore. “So many of the required readings are from today’s newspapers. We grapple with the same issues that our society is trying to figure out itself.” In 2005, Bhawani Venkataraman, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and the Interdisciplinary Science Department Chair, was given an $82,000 grant for promoting “active learning,” a teaching method heavily focused on case studies and experimentation. “There is an increasing need for such professionals,” said Venkataraman. “People who are not necessarily themselves the research scientists or policy makers, but who understand fundamental science, research methods, and their applications to informed policy and action.” In April, Congress issued a series of public-sector budget cuts to science education initiatives. As a result, annual funding for the National Science Foundation has decreased by about $68 million, while subsidies for the Department of Education’s Office of Science and the National Institute of Health have been cut by about $310 million and $35 million, respectively. According to Katherine Denniston, director of undergraduate education for the NSF, in light of these spending reductions universities must continue pulling together their resources in order to keep science education alive. “From the headlines, we are witnessing oil spills, climate change, hurricanes and so many natural disasters,” Denniston said. “Schools and governments must take responsibility and understand how these are affecting civics and economics. Places like The New School keep the humanities in touch, and we
& CULTURE 7
t the Vera List Courtyard, just a stone’s throw away from the busy intersections and fastpaced crowds of Sixth Avenue, the middle of the day approaches. After a morning of classes, a group of students make their way through the revolving doors and walk to the nearby steps, where they set their bags down on the ground and take their seats. There, they begin their lunchtime conversations, discussing current events, social problems, student life. This environment, where an open exchange of ideas is welcome, is their sanctuary. For decades, Eugene Lang College has held a curriculum focused on literature, psychology and history. However, those in the interdisciplinary science department emphasize that knowing the hard sciences — fields like biology, chemistry and physics — are also crucial for understanding social issues. And despite all the complex equations, periodic tables and scientific language, the discussions they have, from the classroom to the courtyard, are no different. “Most undergraduate science programs just don’t work like the interdisciplinary science program,” said Andrew Zimmermann, a senior interdisciplinary science major at Lang. “The department has offered me a venue to explore science in a way that I am certain could not occur at the typical university.” According to a report from the academic journal Science, by as early as 1919 nearly one-third of American universities offered classes that intertwined history and science. But in the past 14 years, those in Lang’s interdisciplinary science department have seen changes in the way science affects everyday life. With spikes in extreme weather, including wildfires, heat waves and hurricanes, communities around the world are being forced to change the way they live. Faculty members like associate professor Katayoun Chamany believe that now, more than ever, is the time to look at science in a more social lens. “I definitely think science is an art form in itself,” said Chamany, the department’s founding faculty member. “It thrives on passion and gut instincts a lot more than some of us like to realize. And it all begins with a conversation.” In addition to seminar-based discussions, Chamany added that students best understand the artistry of science through hands-on experience, both in laboratories and in the field. Interdisciplinary science
need more of that.” At Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, members of the environmental studies department are incorporating visual arts and design into the sciences, and hosting lectures featuring faculty from Parsons and Chicago’s The School of the Art Institute. “There is a tremendous need for analytic and investigative environmental writing and artistic expression on contemporary problems,” Charles Zerner, professor of environmental studies at Sarah Lawrence College, said in a statement following their program’s development last year. “The role of the arts in creating... sustainable approaches to environmental problems cannot be underestimated.” In recent years, similar interdisciplinary programs have been established nationwide, at institutions such as the University of California – Berkeley, State University of New York at Buffalo, and Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. As science education faces a crossroads in the years to come, those at Lang believe they are ready to expand their program. Once the 16-story University Center, located at 65 Fifth Ave., finishes construction in 2013, the interdisciplinary science department plans to open three more laboratories. However, those involved with the program insist these changes will enhance the university’s focus on the sciences, not overwhelm it. “Take a single course in interdisciplinary science, and you might find the way you think of science all together transformed,” added Zimmermann. “It has made me truly care about social issues, and has given me a sense that there is something I can contribute to issues that face people today.” The department is currently offering sixteen seminars, including Science and Politics of Infectious Diseases; Energy and Sustainability; and Genes, Environment and Behavior. Next semester, classes such as Urban Public Health, Chemistry and the Environment, and Stem Cells and Social Justice will be added to the list of offered courses. “Our job is to open the door more widely for students, to expose the different ways that they can see their art,” said Chamany. “Because maybe there isn’t only one right answer.”
Variables Measured- A Comparison of Departments
1. $3.6 million grant from national science foundation plant genome research program to study rice’s reception to environmental changes 2. New NYU “genomics and system biology center” opened June 1, 2011; 62,000 square feet, featuring “interconnected loft labs” 3. Acquired the fastest super computer in NYC named “MAX”
1. Renowned astrophysicist Brian Greene teaches math and physics 2. In 2011, 1,515 students enrolled at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
1. Two Hunter Macaulay honors students won the prestigious Barry M. Goldberg scholarship for undergraduate science majors 2. Department of Defense awarded a Hunter biologist $114,000 for her work promoting “myelin formation”
1. In 2005, Bhawani Venkataraman, assistant professor of chemistry and interdisciplinary science department chair, was given an $82,000 grant for promoting “active learning” 2. 25 people are currently enrolled in the interdisciplinary science department at Lang 3. The science department only features one lab, but plans to expand
Photos by Courtney Stack, Stephany Chung, Sasha Wolfe, & David Sundberg/ Etso
ERIC FERNANDEZ Reporting by Aaron Light & Andrea Vocos
Critics, Poets, and Essayists Come Together to Tell the Story of The New School
literary publications within the New School community continue to be relevant. 12th Street functions as a journal for work happening in the The New School’s Riggio Honors writing program. It also holds web and print launches bi-annually at Barnes and Noble. Lit, run by the New School MFA creative writing program, has featured pieces from many well-respected poets and writers such as Rosmarie Waldrop, K. Silem Mohammad, and Graham Foust. “Instead of necessarily reflecting what’s being talked about in the classroom at The New School, we’re hoping that conversation becomes a part of a larger conversation which is that of the writing community in New York City,” said Jeff Johnson, editorin-chief of Lit’s poetry section. Editors at Lit hope the work in the magazine reflects the image they have of The New School. “Off-beat, forward-thinking and innovative, but also amiable, playful and fun,” said Jeff Johnson, describing the work the magazine features. Lit isn’t the only New School-affiliated literary journal. Release, has undergone new faculty advising. As the journal gets a face-lift, Mark Statman, associate professor of writing at Eugene Lang, has high hopes. “Release has mainly been a journal of student writing,” he said. “What we’re trying to do with 11 and ½ is have it be the literary journal of Eugene Lang
ver rooftop whiskey, poet Paul Legault became acquainted with Lit magazine’s founding editor, Mark Bibbins. This rooftop experience welcomed Legault to New York City and its vibrant community of poets, literary figures, and in this particular case, New School literary journals like Lit magazine. “Lit is the literary mouthpiece of The New School’s MFA program,” Lagault said. “And whether you like it or not, the journal creates a time capsule for what the public can claim as a ‘New School’ aesthetic. It’s exciting that the current students can do that much to shape it.” With Eugene Lang College’s undergraduate literary journal, Release, transitioning into 11 and ½,
Next semester Release will become 11 and 1/2
Lit is operated by The New School’s MFA Program
12th Street also releases an online component
College.” 11 and ½ will function more as the “mouthpiece” of the Eugene Lang writing program, much the way Paul Legault described how Lit functions for the MFA creative writing program. Instead of a showcase of solely student submissions, 11 and ½ will feature poets and writers both student and nonstudent. “As far as I can tell [the change from Release to 11 and ½] is a really positive thing,” said Daniel Ellis-Ferris, a Lang undergraduate who worked on Release and is now working on 11 and ½. “The team that’s working on it is allowed so much more creativity. Rather than working within a box, we’re creating the box.” The journal, set to launch next semester, will feature student writing, but editorial staff will make a conscious effort to reach outside the student body for material. Their debut release will feature an interview with and work by poet Charles North. “[Interviewing North] was actually really fun,”
continued Ellis-Ferris. “I was expecting it to be a lot more vigorous than it was. He was really laid-back, really awesome. He practically led the interview. He really played ball with us. Personally, it was really nice to meet someone who has a literary career, but is also a real person.” Ellis-Ferris’s involvement with the New Schoolaffiliated literary journal led him a step outside the classroom to interact with a working, reputable poet. As a result of her work with 12th Street, Liz Axelrod, an MFA creative writing student, now with the editorial staff for Lit magazine, got the chance to meet Mary Gaitskill, a literary idol of hers. “We met at Cafe Loup and talked for an hour and 20 minutes,” Axelrod said. “When we were finished she said to me ‘Liz, when you edit this, please make me sound good.’ I realized then that even our literary idols are just like us. They have the same fears and insecurities as we do. It was a revelation.” Axelrod’s interview with Gaitskill appeared in the May 2010 edition of 12th Street and won the Associ-
ated Writers and Writing Programs Awards for both design and content. Like Ellis-Ferris, Axelrod connected with one of her literary idols through involvement with a New School journal. Participating in The New School’s literary magazines has helped students learn from established writers, and for the writer to be aware of attitudes and trends amongst aspiring writers. “Readers [of literary journals] are fellow writers, or are particularly interested in what goes on, artistically, in one place,” explained Mark Greif, an assistant professor of literary studies at Lang. “I come from Boston, and in Boston there were terrific literary journals that represented different towns, like Cambridge, or Somerville, and different sensibilities, like the experimental and the traditional.”
The New Youth at Alcoholics Anonymous
BRIANNA LYLE Reporting by Emily Katz & Kimberly Lightbody
On were taking a break from thegroup of young people stood smoking outsideLegal Drink.”West 22ndchurch, a chilly Thursday evening a a church on Street. They Alcoholics Anonymous meeting “Never Had a Inside the
after grabbing a cup of coffee and passing around the Oreos, the group found their seats and listened to a story by a young woman about her struggles with addiction. For a moment, the atmosphere felt almost too enjoyable. This was, after all, an AA meeting. “I have two years today,” said a man. “I’ll have 90 days on Saturday,” another girl said just a few seats away. She couldn’t have been older than 17. The fact is, more young people are entering AA.
A 2010 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services survey found that 15.3 percent among 16- or 17-year-olds, 33.3 percent among persons aged 18 to 20, and 45.5 percent among youths 21 to 25 had been binge drinking within the last month, a statistic some professionals are commenting on. Dr. Michael S. Grove, a clinical social worker and therapist who deals specifically with young people, “absolutely” sees a rise in alcohol abuse. “That was certainly an increase from what we had previously thought the numbers were,” added Ashley Anderson, a licensed social worker and the recovery coach supervisor at Tribeca Twelve, an alcohol and drug-free dorm that will be opening soon in Manhattan, about a 2009 National Survey on drug use and health that found that about one-fifth of young adults, aged 18-25, were classified as needing treatment. of 16 and 20 youth are experiencing “dramatic physical, emotional and social changes.” These hazardous drinking patterns only escalate between the ages of 18 and 20, which Pediatrics says is the age range when teens are at the greatest risk for developing an alcohol use disorder. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says that early alcohol consumption could have long-lasting consequences. According to the institute, youth who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependency than those who have their first drink at 20 years of age or older. However, this information doesn’t prove whether it’s clear that drinking at an early age causes alcoholism or if drinking at an early age indicates an already existing problem. For instance, according to the NIAAA, alcoholism in sobriety than I ever did drinking and none of them compromised who I wanted to be,” said Jennifer H., 32 who came into AA at the age of 19 and has been sober for 12 years. “I’m still growing up in AA, and I’m the luckiest person in the world,” added Megan R. However, there are some who believe AA isn’t the right place for everyone. Youth can end up in AA for the wrong reasons — and not all people who drink heavily are alcoholics. “There are a lot of people that end up in AA that probably shouldn’t be there, especially young people,” said Nathan P., 45, who came into AA at the age of 16 after agreeing to go to a treatment center. “It’s a good place to go to and recover from alcoholism, but not for all your other problems.” Later he mentioned that some people who drink and get into trouble while do-
“I was so full of self-hatred. If I didn’t come into AA at the age I did, I wouldn’t be here. It wouldn’t have been much longer before I killed myself.”
“I decided to attend AA meetings because I was miserable,” Megan R., 16, said. “I was so full of self-hatred. If I didn’t come into AA at the age I did, I wouldn’t be here. It wouldn’t have been much longer before I killed myself.” She is a little over a year and a half sober. Her decision to enter AA came after she reached a mere 90 pounds on her five-foot seven-inch body and was hanging out in the projects with high school drop-outs, she later explained. “AA gave me hope,” she said. “They understood me. These people, who lived the same miserable existence I did, now could laugh and smile. I knew they were completely content with their lives and with themselves, and I wanted that.” Megan isn’t the only person who took a similar path with drugs or alcohol, and decided to enter the rooms of AA at a young age. Jared, 28, vice president of a Fortune 500 company, found himself running drugs from Amsterdam to his school nearly every weekend. “At the end of that stint I got in some fights with some drug dealers, there were some guns involved,” he explained. “[I had] some really low points and at that time I came back to the states and entered rehab at the age of 19.” Jared is now sober after eight years in AA. According to Pediatrics, a journal that focuses on youth medicine, the teenage years are a predictable time to develop drinking problems. Between the ages has been linked to personality characteristics such as strong tendencies to act impulsively and to seek out new experiences and sensations. There is also evidence that alcoholism is genetic and that environmental factors may be involved in a person’s alcoholism. “[For them] it is something to try, something to emulate.” said Dr. Grove on why youth are vulnerable to the addiction of alcohol. The adolescent brain is developing and trying to mimic adults by smoking cigarettes or by drinking, he explained over the phone to The New School Free Press. Some youth are involved with alcohol simply because of the way the adolescent brain develops and AA provides a support system that youth want. “The value of AA is the social support, pressure and connection you get from other people, that is stuff adolescents crave,” Dr. Grove later added. For these reasons he sees AA as a good recovery option for youth. Sponsors in AA are at the forefront of the battle with alcoholism. “I remember explaining to a young guy that if you rub a towel on your body after a shower, it helps you dry faster,” said Andrzej W., 33, who came into AA at 25. “It’s kind of stunning the things we can miss if we’re in stressed-out environments.” Most young people recovering in the AA program acknowledge their addiction and happily embrace the support AA has provided them. “I had more fun and have done more wild things ing so don’t always qualify as alcoholics. There are even the people who end up in treatment centers because the alternative is far worse. Jared explained that often people are given two choices for things such as DUI’s: jail or drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Most people choose to enter a rehabilitation center, where they often end up in AA meetings. “Sometimes [young people] seek it through the court system — sometimes that’s a motivation for them to seek treatment, if they get a DUI or something and they realize, ‘OK, I need help,’” said Anderson. Still, Jared maintains that AA isn’t a a hang out spot for teenagers who drink. “There’s a pretty good chance that if you’re coming into AA at this age that you are an alcoholic,” he added. Of the people are entering AA at an early age, most claim that the program has saved their lives. And living, as they have found out, is something worth being sober for. “A young person needs to have a youth to be happy,” said Andrzej. “You know, if you want an amazing shortcut to get the entire story from a young alcoholic ask these three questions: What was your first drunk? Your last drunk? And what was it like learning to dance sober? You’d be surprised how much is packed in that last question.”
& CULTURE 9
What Happened, and What it Means
The occupation of 90 Fifth Ave. proved to be a contentious and divisive issue for the entire community. For many students, the occupation represented a manifestation of the ideals that they had come to The New School to experience: our historically active and progressive university was, once again, making its voice heard in an important social movement. But plenty of others were opposed to the occupation, and raised concerns about the graffiti on the walls of the Student Study Center, the loss of valuable — and limited — study space at the university, and the perceived exclusiveness of the occupation. All of these different issues left the university community uncertain. What were the occupiers trying to achieve? Were they going about it in the right way? And did they succeed? When the occupation officially ended, quietly and peacefully, in the early hours of November 25, these questions were still unanswered. Now that it’s all over, we have an opportunity to reflect upon what happened and discuss how we, as a community, should move forward. On November 17, when the occupation began at 90 Fifth Ave., many students supported it. They supported the OWS movement, and saw the occupation of the Student Study Center as a chance to bring that movement and its values to the New School. The organizers of the occupation hoped to foster an open dialogue, to have a creative exchange of political, economic and social ideas pertaining to students. The goal in all this was to raise student awareness, spur activism and remind our generation that we can and should have a say in the way that our university, and our entire country, is run. But as the occupation wore on, the original goals and values of the OWS movement — the goals and values that the occupiers had wanted to bring to The New School and use to launch a nationwide student movement — were lost. As word spread of vandalism in the Student Study Center and the occupiers issued a press freeze there, the occupation came to be seen as an exclusive, radical movement, and many students who supported OWS and wanted to be involved said that they felt uncomfortable and unwelcome there. Disillusioned and disappointed, they stopped supporting the occupation and instead called for its end. But now that the graffiti has been washed away and the Student Study Center has returned to its normal usage, let’s not forget the ideas that attracted so many students to the OWS movement and the occupation of 90 Fifth Ave. in the first place. There is, after all, a reason that OWS is so popular among college students: higher education costs more now than it ever has before, and, as a result, our generation is looking at enormous amounts of student debt. Our government has also racked up a huge amount of debt, and as it continues to wage costly wars halfway across the world and argue about how to fix our country’s enormous wealth disparity, young Americans are becoming increasingly frustrated. It’s not just us, either. All year, protests, rallies and riots have popped up across the globe. First there was the Arab Spring, then there were the riots in Europe, and now, with OWS, the U.S. is experiencing upheaval as well — not as violent as the Arab Spring, but nonetheless significant. We can’t fix everything. But we can have discussions and try to facilitate change. Instead of being sidetracked by the drama and theatrics of last week’s occupation, let’s focus on having a dialogue and encouraging student involvement. The occupation wasn’t a total failure — before things got out of hand, it did, at the very least, provoke students to get involved and discuss our country’s social, political, and economic status. OWS does not have to manifest itself in vandalism or in unpopular occupations of valued study space. It can manifest itself in our university by, quite simply, inspiring discussions, spurring active engagement, and reminding our generation that we don’t have to be apathetic — that we have a say in how our university and our country is run. We have a voice, and we can use it. By Miles Kohrman, Kimberly Lightbody, & Rey Mashayekhi
An Outsider’s Perspective: How David Van Zandt Successfully Handled the Occupation
JONATHAN HOWARD Guest Contributor
f you asked me how I felt on November 17, when a march for the Student Day of Action led to an occupation of the New School building at 90 Fifth Ave., I’d have told you that I had only just arrived in the city to visit a friend for the weekend. I attend St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, a small, Jesuit college that’s overrun with business majors. I didn’t know where 90 Fifth Ave. was in relation to Zuccotti Park, nor had I any idea how Occupy Wall Street was related to the occupation at The New School. But as an outsider, the goals of the occupation weren’t what interested me. When I came to stay with a friend from The New School and stumbled upon the occupation, I was curious about one thing: how President David Van Zandt would handle such a situation. With this inquisitive spirit, I asked my friend to show me the email that Van Zandt sent to the entire university on November 18. Although I knew nothing about the president, it was quickly evident that he had a background in law and knew how to use words to bend public opinion in his favor. While his role as president meant that he had to look out for the best interests of the school and its students, his letter also subtly indicated that he was looking out for himself as well. Many people have pointed out, with good reason, that Van Zandt wanted to avoid a violent confrontation like the one that plagued his predecessor, Bob Kerrey. In line with that, he made an agreement with the occupiers of 90 Fifth Ave.: he would let them stay, so long as they followed certain guidelines. This agreement is what exhibited Van Zandt’s shrewd skills as a manipulator of public opinion. Most of the guidelines that he set for the occupiers were strictly related to legal issues — they had to abide by the building’s legal occupancy limit, for example, and they
couldn’t disturb other tenants. If the occupiers broke the agreement, he would not be able to stop the landlord or the Fire Marshal from calling in the police. The situation would be out of his hands. Essentially, if the police did get involved, Van Zandt could not be blamed. Of course, none of this was blatant in Van Zandt’s email. To most, he appeared very nonchalant — he was letting the occupiers do their thing, playing the part of overseer, rather than oppressor. His email ended with a note about The New School’s unique mission, which included supporting freedom of expression — the icing on the cake to show students that he really was the antiKerrey. I didn’t take Van Zandt to be disingenuous. But I did get the impression that this man was slickly navigating the occupation and making full use of his legal education to protect both himself and the university. Yet his second email, sent five days later, seemed less carefully crafted. At noon on November 22, he invited the entire university community to a last-minute public forum, set to take place just two and a half hours later. In my experience, school officials often host public forums not to hear student grievances, but to talk down unhappy students and explain to them how they should really feel. This is not what happened at Van Zandt’s public forum. Instead, it was exactly what it was supposed to be: an open exchange of grievances and opinions about an occupation that many students were fed up with. At this public forum, Van Zandt mentioned two issues that I had suspected would come up: the occupiers of 90 Fifth Ave. were breaking fire code — the fire marshal had actually issued a citation to The New School — and the owner of 90 Fifth Ave. had begun taking legal action against the university. But Van Zandt then said something I hadn’t expected — the university was offering the occupiers a new space, Kellen Gallery, in the
university-owned building at 2 W. 13 St. This is where Van Zandt, for me, turned the corner. I no longer thought that he was merely being a clever and manipulating lawyer, trying to deal with the situation in the cleanest and least-controversial way possible. Instead, he was fulfilling his role as the president of The New School. Many students may not have been happy with Van Zandt’s hesitancy to call the police, and some of the occupiers were not pleased with his offer to move them to Kellen Gallery. But now that the occupation is over, it’s clear that Van Zandt was listening to the dialogue on both sides. He did not have the occupiers removed, nor did he let them stay after the rest of the student body began to voice their complaints and legal issues arose. He carefully balanced the opposing opinions and continuously sent emails to the university community to update them on the situation. The fact that the occupation ended with no police intervention, no arrests and no violence is proof enough that Van Zandt handled the occupation well. While his background as a lawyer certainly informed his decisions and helped him avoid controversy, his commitment to hearing students’ opinion showed that he cared more about the university and its students than about saving his public image. He spoke with and listened to students from across the university — those who opposed the occupation altogether, those who supported the move to Kellen Gallery, and the small group who refused to leave the Student Study Center in 90 Fifth Ave. In doing so, Van Zandt showed himself to be more than a crafty administrator. He showed that his dedication to freedom of expression really is genuine. Jonathan Howard is a senior at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA, where he majors in International Relations. He is originally from Washington, D.C.
From the Organizers of the Occupation: What They Wanted, What Went Wrong, and What Comes Next
e are a group of students who acted to establish the occupation of the Study Center at 90 Fifth Ave. that began on Thursday, November 17. Our enthusiasm for the occupation was grounded in our ambitions to open an autonomous space in support of the Occupy movement, which recently had a hasty eviction from Zuccotti Park. We wanted to secure a base for connecting protests and struggles across the city, giving impetus for the further development of the burgeoning student movement. Our intention was to open a selforganized and non-institutional 24-hour space in which people could organize activities and teach-ins and discuss the current state and role of the higher education system. Moreover, we wanted to create an autonomous space to facilitate political debate and discussion, as well as have radical and experimental forms of education that were all-inclusive and open to the public. Regardless of our personal beliefs, it became clear that the 90 Fifth Ave. occupation had not galvanized enough support from the wider community of students and stakeholders. Despite the many positive teachins, workshops and discussions the space had fostered in such a short time, the occupation unfortunately was becoming self-referential and trapped in a futile logistical effort to preserve a space soon to be lost, and lack of regard for outreach caused the occupation to drive away more people than it brought together. The focus on just maintaining the space itself as an occupation for occupation’s sake was the opposite of its founding intention. With our original political goals in mind, we supported the decision to accept the administration’s offer to move to the Kellen Gallery, which was approved by the GA on Tuesday, November 22. For us, the occupation should have ended that day. Although the limits of the space were apparent, we thought that the move to the gallery could give us the opportunity to work with more inclusive and experimental forms of action and debate, build a stronger connection with the Occupy movement, and contribute to the advancement of the student movement. We condemn the vandalism of both the 90 Fifth Ave. Study Center and the Kellen Gallery. Let us be absolutely clear: We do not denounce the graffiti found at either space because we universally abhor graffiti or moralistically “draw the line” as ethical protesters, sick at the sight of damage to private property. NO: We denounce as “vandalism” what was a specific willful assault — not on the administration of the university, not on bourgeois property, and not on the workings of capital — but on the autonomy of the political space being shared and created by all participants of the occupation. The graffiti of the few did not liberate the space; on the contrary, it only made the space feel as if it belonged to those few and not to all of us. These “autonomous actions” of individuals’ scrawling on the walls amounted to empty tactics, not substantive politics. There is a clear distinction between articulating violence within a political cause and employing an empty tactic that results in clichéd aesthetic imitation of what the few think the revolutionary vanguard should look like. Despite the graffiti’s constant prevention of political debate, the few could not think past their own immediate satisfaction and failed to collectively develop a political movement. We reject what rejects the possibility of doing politics productively. We would like to see the development of a larger and more inclusive student movement, which focuses on concrete actions and political discussion rather than merely reinforcing ideological divisions. For this reason we would like to be part of a movement committed to both direct participation and real democracy. A student movement is necessary because the system of higher education in the United States is a tool for the reproduction of race, gender and class inequalities, and hierarchically organized power relations. We are therefore interested in connecting a critique of the education system to a critique of capitalist social relations. We also think that the theoretical and practical critique of sexism and racism are and should be a fundamental part of the critique of capital. We would like to work in strong coordination with the NYC All-Student Assembly. Our immediate goals are to support the student struggle against tuition hikes at CUNY, join the campaign against rising student debt, participate in protests against police brutality, support workers’ strikes in NYC, organize teach-ins and debates, and experiment with new and more inclusive forms of political action and discussion. For these reasons we support the March for Jobs and Economic Fairness on December 1 organized by NYC-CLC, the day of action against foreclosures organized by OWS on December 6, and the day of the Port Blockade organized by Occupy Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego, Tacoma and Portland on December 12. Finally, and this is our greatest hope: a nation-wide student movement and free education for all. Signed, Dan Boscov-Ellen, Hannes Charen, Aaron Jaffe, Sophie Lewis, Erin Schell, Kyle Stone Brad Young
A Note From David Van Zandt on the Occupation
hile the events of the last two weeks have been headline news for some at The New School, others may question how we became a setting for Occupy Wall Street, a movement with adherents as far away as the Philippines. As president, I want to offer my perspective and outline a few broad principles that have governed the university’s decision-making. Since its founding, The New School has had an important role in American higher education: standing for free and open discourse, a strong connection between intellectual and political life, and tolerance. The university’s founders believed that progressive education and democratic society are inextricably linked — that, in the words of John Dewey, “true education frees the human spirit.” The last few weeks have turned a laser-like focus on The New School habit of finding educational possibility in current social problems. As Occupy Wall Street gathered supporters within this community, I saw that The New School could have a role nurturing a conversation about the full range of issues, including equality, consumerism, environmentalism and even the steep cost of higher education. In early October, we hosted a school-wide teach-in and encouraged students from across the city to convene at The New School to further their understanding of the movement and its desire to promote social justice. As many of you know, our connection became even closer last week. On Thursday, November 17, the Student Week of Action rally in Union Square ended with a group of protesters heading for the Student Study Center at 90 Fifth Ave. and declaring it “occupied.” A few days earlier, other campuses were torn apart by violent episodes that followed similar protests, and I was adamant that The New School not resort to force. Though commandeering student resources is antithetical to core principles of education, protecting students from danger was a more immediate concern. To keep everyone on campus safe, we did not move to evict the protesters on Thursday or during the week that followed. I am proud that many of students and faculty were committed to productive use of the Study Center and over the ensuing days, held open-minded discussions of pressing social issues. One student told me that her experience in the occupation mirrored the passionate and pertinent discourse that goes on every day in New School classrooms. But embedding such conversations within a forceful seizure of space conflicted with an even more important educational principle: No matter how spirited, scholarly inquiry must not take place at the expense of others’ education. Dialogue must occur in a climate of civility and respect. In a few days, the occupation was no longer welcoming, safe, or conducive to the spirit of inquiry but a locus for explosive behavior, destruction of property, and the systematic exclusion of dissenting voices. Furthermore, with finals approaching, the loss of the Study Center was too great a sacrifice for other students. We met with the University Student Senate and proposed relocating protesters to the Kellen Gallery. My goal was to support productive discourse under terms consistent
with this university’s values while providing a safe and inviting space to study. As I write this, we are debating the next phase with healthy dissent about the ideal setting for student organizing. Some want an autonomous arena that challenges the notions of the use of public space; others have asked for something resembling a university classroom that places students at the helm. On November 28, the student senate hosted a discussion about the way we can move forward as a community. I am confident in the senate’s leadership and the many smart suggestions that came from their peers. While we may never share an identical vision for a student-led learning environment, we must agree that every topic of educational value has a home within this university’s walls, wherever they are situated. Dissenting opinions, untested ideas and unpopular solutions always, always belong at The New School. We are moving into the final weeks of a remarkable semester. I offer my profound thanks to the students, faculty and staff who worked to bring about a resolution without injury or permanent loss, and to those who suffered considerable disturbance to their routine at a busy time of year. When we will next meet as a community to discuss our connection to Occupy Wall Street, we must remind ourselves that The New School has a responsibility to support positive change in an inclusive, safe and civil environment that marks a proud past and promising future. -President David Van Zandt
How the Administration’s Naïveté Led to the Defacing of Kellen
CHARIS POON Guest Contributor
he defacing of Kellen Gallery may be the final good-bye from the occupiers after their short-lived occupation at the New School. The graffiti is their not-so-grateful thank you letter: “Had a blast in your lovely school! Hope you don’t mind the mess. XOXO Occupy New School.” The occupiers proved themselves incapable of respecting school property when they occupied the Student Study Center at 90 Fifth Avenue. The school administration should have expected them to act just as inconsiderately towards any new space given them — including, unfortunately, Kellen Gallery. Until last week, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery was a spacious, clean, white space with grey cement floors. Different exhibitions are shown there year round, and many Parsons students celebrate the end of their education by holding senior thesis exhibitions there
in May. Two years ago, when the Communication Design and Design and Technology BFA show was held there, I remember my friends and I telling each other how great it would be if we could have the same space when the time came for our senior thesis exhibitions. The occupiers got there first. From the street outside, you could see the graffiti, “SPOILED NEW SCHOOL ANARCHISTS,” “FREE EDUCATION,” and “COPS OUT OF CUNY!” Since the occupation began in 90 Fifth Avenue on November 17, I suspected that the situation would end badly. The graffiti in Kellen Gallery confirmed my suspicions—a shame, since it all began so well. On the first day of the occupation, President David Van Zandt told the occupiers they could stay in the Student Study Center at 90 Fifth Avenue so long as they were peaceful, did not cause damage, and let the security guards remain. Despite complaints from a number of New School students, and possible legal
issues arising from the fact that the New School does not own the building, Van Zandt followed through, letting them occupy the building all weekend. The week after, on November 22, amid reports of vandalism and damage inside the Student Study Center, Van Zandt announced at a Public Forum that the Fire Marshal had issued a citation to the New School for violating fire code, and that the landlord of 90 Fifth Avenue was taking legal action against the university for breaching its lease. But even then, Van Zandt offered the occupiers an “alternative space.” What was the rationale for choosing Kellen Gallery as the alternative space for the occupiers? Past installations there have shown work from prominent new artists, from traveling exhibitions, from faculty and students at Parsons — all carefully curated for a professional gallery. The “occupation exhibition” showed spray painted slogans that referred to cops as “pigs” and to less-radical
occupiers as “pussies.” And, thanks to the large glass window, anyone on the street had a complete view and could easily identify the occupiers’ actions and “artwork” with the entire university. Van Zandt’s decision to move the occupiers to Kellen Gallery also cut short the U-N-F-O-L-D exhibition, a touring installment intended to run in Kellen Gallery until December 15. All this says to me is, “Yes, your vague political agenda is more important than this school and this space’s primary functions.” Kellen Gallery is an important space, one with a positive history and a promising future. The administration’s hasty and poor decision making led to its walls being unnecessarily damaged so that students could express their opinions. I’m still unsure about what, exactly, those opinions are. I have been told by some of the occupiers that it was a small minority that defaced the gallery and that the majority wanted a space where stu-
dents could have open dialogue and organize political and social activism. But those people with relatively peaceful agendas must have been overpowered by the more destructive occupiers. This is what we saw happen in 90 Fifth Avenue, and then again at Kellen Gallery. I am still trying to comprehend the administration’s naivete — did they think the occupiers would act any differently in Kellen Gallery? To my understanding, they only occupy places they disrespect and are frustrated about. The occupiers said that they had taken the Student Study Center, which they deemed a private and elite study space, so that they could liberate it. Their purpose is not to honor an occupied space, but to radically change it, to transform it into a manifestation of their political ideals. Many students were hopeful that Kellen Gallery would be an opportunity for the occupiers to launch an open dialogue.
THE NEW SCHOOL FREE PRESS
For some, the act of cataloging our obligations and desires is impulsive, sporadic. For others, it’s habitual. List-keeping helps us to make sense of the tasks at hand, helps us to visualize and systematically attack what might otherwise overwhelm us. Lists tend to reflect the mind frame of their makers, from the hurried scrawled of the frantic insomniac to the neat bullet points penned by the straight-A student. Which chores merit an exclamation point, or even two exclamation points? What if we don’t remind ourselves to eat breakfast? what if we dont remind ourselves to sleep? And if our to-do lists aren’t reflections of who we are, they are certainly reflective of who we want to be. Through them we practice self-deception. We write down and cross off chores we have already completed to make ourselves appear more accomplished. We remind ourselves to CALL HER (seriously, just do it) when we know we won’t. We make note of Pilates classes we will never attend and job openings we will never apply for. But is the disparity inherent in these to do lists a shortcoming? Have we failed? Or is it a demonstration of our faith in our abilities to one day become the people we want to be?
by courtney stack
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?