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NYU Inc. Disorientation Guide 2009
NYU is a corporation. NYU Inc. is a radical publication run by NYU students.
Editors: Nick, Drew, Emily, Andrew, Rachel Contributors: E.S., F.M, N.S., GSOC, C.B. Photography: Louise, Andrew Hinderaker, Vanissa Chan Groups: Students Creating Radical Change Take Back NYU! Graduate Student Organizing Committee Back cover illustration by Frank. As always, we are in debt to the ghosts of disorientaiton guide editors past: A.C., B.Q., D.M., C.B., J.M. All writings in this Disorientation Guide represent the perspectives of their specific authors, not neccesarily all of those involved in this publication. Anti-Copyright: All materials in this zine for which the authors have legal copyright can be freely reproduced or distributed with no need for prior permission from the authors. Copy and distribute freely, on NYU’s dime if possible. And finally, thanks to our readers, without whom we would simply be talking to ourselves.

Table of Discontents
Introduction .................................... 3 The Past Year in Struggle ............... 4 Why Occupy? .................................. 7 Work, Study, Indenture .................. 10 Study Abroad in the Age of Global Empire..................... 12 Student Government Vs. Direct Democracy ................... 14 Meet the Trustees............................ 16 Activist Resource Map ................... 17 Manhattan Radical History ........... 18 Why I Don’t Volunteer or Want an Internship ........................................ 20 An Approach to Education ........... 22 Going to School In New York ....... 24 Reading List..................................... 25 Radical Faculty at NYU ................. 26 Activist Clubs .................................. 27



we live in an era of illusions
And these illusions define our lives. The status quo imposes upon us endlessly: the promise of neoliberal prosperity, the pretense of democracy, the supposed infallibility of the market. But people are increasingly beginning to doubt the story they have been told; the seams are starting to split. Workers around the world are occupying their workplaces, youth in Greece still refuse to be pacified by the police, and students are more and more angry about their diminishing future prospects. But power will do anything to maintain its illusions—as such, the US government spent $800 billion to restore legitimacy to our literally bankrupt economic system, while any desire for “change” was funneled into Obama’s efficient presidential campaign. The situation is the same here at NYU. We are told that we should trust those in charge, that they know what’s best for us. But we can’t help wondering why we will be on average $30,000 in debt when we graduate, why our tuition now doesn’t cover printing costs, or why those long-sought-after great classes are so rare. And through it all we work and study long hours while alienation and boredom abound—because we have to, because we still believe in those illusions. This is a guide for those who wish to see a bit more clearly. For the uncommon soul who feels crushed under an invisible weight and is not resigned to carrying this burden forever. This is an antidote to the “disorientation” from which we all suffer. In the following pages you will find perspectives about the University, about our complicated world, about our all-too-human condition. And from it, you may be able begin to plot a path through the world we all navigate, a route that takes you to more adventurous, liberatory places than you might have otherwise gone. For a freer and more joyous world, The editors 3

2008-2009: The Year In Struggle

September 2, 2008-Take Back NYU! submits a written letter to the NYU administration stating their 3 demands; budget disclosure, endowment disclosure, and placing a student on NYU’s Board of Trustees. The letter also asks for a response within a month. October 2, 2008-The administration fails to carry through with their promise of a timely response to the letter outlining demands, so a town hall meeting, titled “Steal This School”, is called to discuss the future of the campaign October 31, 2008- A political street theatre event, “Monster Mash”, is held, in which vampires and corporate zombies roam NYU sucking students dry with no accountability or avenue for redress. December 5- Hoax financial aid flyers are distributed by SCRC on campus urging students to consider going to CUNY based on a remark President John Sexton made during a town hall meeting. December 12- Over 150 students dance their final exam blues away in Bobst Library during the Study Breakdown. This free form action celebrates the reclamation of space and radical self expression while building community within an alien-

ating structure. December 17-19- About one hundred students occupy The New School cafeteria at 65 5th Ave in response to President Bob Kerry’s self appointment to the position of Provost, and New School’s failure to listen to its students. NYPD arrest two individuals, statements of support pour in from around the world, and a mass of students manage to get past NYPD and campus security to enter the building bringing the occupation to about 200. The New School gives in to some of the demands and the students leave with an ultimatum for Kerry to step down by April 1. Many NYU students participate inside and outside the occupation, building community beyond the NYU bubble and learning vital lessons about direct action. February 5, 2009- The NYU Senate votes 28-22 in favor of lifting the ban on CocaCola products that resulted from a campaign opposing Coke’s involvement with the murder of several union members in Colombia. This clearly had nothing to do with NYU Board of Trustee member Barry Diller, who has also coincidentally been on Coke’s board since 2002.


February 18- As dinner is winding down at Kimmel’s Marketplace, students move tables and chairs to blockade the doors to the cafeteria. A list of demands relating to transparency, democracy and human rights is released. Contrary to claims made by the NYU administration, there is no attempt to negotiate with the students during the occupation. February 19- Stalling on the part of NYU administrators led the occupiers to escalate their tactics and gain access to the balcony on the third floor of Kimmel. Banners are dropped while hundreds of people gather in the “free speech zone” in front of Kimmel with lines of NYPD and metal barricades keeping them from the building. Around 9 P.M. a wave of some 60 students defy the authorities and struggle their way through a gauntlet of angry and forceful security guards to join the occupation, bringing food and energy to the action. NYU lets students know that they will not be allowed to stay a second night in Kimmel and set a 1 A.M. deadline hoping that street support will be weak in the frigid night. With the deadline closing, over 1000 people gather in front of Kimmel, refusing to be moved by the angry police. Pepper spray spews from the police line blinding those who see NYU’s shortcomings. Batons rise and fall striking vicious blows to any who happen to stand strong. The crowd remains steadfast in the face of state violence and begins to chant “SHAME!” One NYU student is arrested and charged with several misdemeanors including inciting a riot. NYU alleges that there were no arrests during the occupation and takes no responsibility nor even mentions the police violence carried out in the name of securing NYU. With the thousand people in front of Kimmel and the eyes of local, national, and global media focused on the occupation, NYU realizes it cannot enforce the 1 A.M. deadline. February 20-Students remain steadfast inside and outside the occupation as letters of solidarity pour in from Greece to Helsinki . Even Noam Chomsky sends a

letter in support of the action. Around 9 A.M. the NYU administration claims that it wishes to negotiate. 5 negotiators are sent to sit down with the ever elusive Lynn Browne. The negotiators are immediately detained and informed of their suspension from NYU. The lengths to which the university will go to protect its shroud of secrecy are reiterated by the deceptive tactics they used to lure out the five negotiators. The security guards move in mass, pushing through the blockade. 18 Students are summarily suspended until their disciplinary proceedings reach their end. February 25- Over 170 Members of NYU’s Faculty released a statement and petition calling for the reinstatement of the suspended students. They criticize the “guilty until proven innocent” approach that the university took, along with the administration’s failure to listen to students’ demands prior to the occupation. March 9- Graduate Student Organizing Committee holds a sit-in inside Bobst wearing signs calling for the university to recognize their right to organize and form a union. NYU’s fear of activists can be felt with the increased presence of security guards and other officials.



March 10- NYU calls NYPD for an imaginary protest at 11P.M. Approximately 30 police cars and two paddy wagons arrive. The metal barricades that have been sitting ominously against Kimmel since the occupation are linked up and traffic is stopped. There is no protest planned. NYU’s fear of its own students becomes even more apparent along with their intention to use NYPD to stop students and faculty from taking a stand. March 12- Flyers fall from the upper levels of Bobst reading; “We are PEOPLE not PROFIT” and “The time has come to begin our refusal. We cannot allow ourselves to stand idly by while NYU profits by our intelligence, lining other people’s pockets while our future slips away. The crises we face are too great for self-interest-as-usual. This is the beginning of their end, and our beginning. Out of their fall, we will rise. Will you rise with us?” April 10- An affinity group made up of New School and NYU students, along with others, follow through with their threat to shut down the New School because President Bob Kerry did not resign. The group enters 65 5th Ave around 5 AM and moves quickly to secure doors and neutralize security cameras. Banners hang from the top of the building and supporters begin to gather. NYPD responds quickly calling a “code cobra,” a counter-terrorist maneuver. Over 200 police and two helicopters arrive on the scene surrounding the building. NYU security officials and administrators work with New School and NYPD sharing information about individuals and possible tactics for defusing the growing power of students in New York City. Police violently attack random protesters on 14th street. Video footage makes the New York Times blog and the world watches how universities in New York deal with student activists. The police cut through the front doors and arrest 19 inside. A support rally is called and heavily attended resulting in several arrests. April 16- A rally against police brutality is called and turns into a roving street protest. Two students are arrested for linking arms on 6th Ave. and blocking traffic. The police brandish their batons and hit students’ linked arms in an attempt to bully the students off the street. The mass of 200 students marches through the arch, across Washington Square Park to block 4th street in front of Kimmel. Chants of “FUCK THE POLICE” and “OCCUPY AGAIN! AGAIN, AND AGAIN!” can be heard echoing through the streets. Dozens of police arrive and block the entrance to Kimmel. It is clear that New School’s struggle and NYU’s struggles are on in the same. OCCUPY EVERYTHING May 1- Several black clad figures gain access to the top of the Silver Center. The purple flag that usually adorns the building is nowhere to be seen. A banner is left hanging off the side of the building reading: “FUCK TUITION HIKES”. The university responds by, surprise surprise, saying nothing about the action and hiking tuition once again.

Why Occupy?

Surely by now you’ve heard about the infamous NYU occupation. Those vegan militants who took over the Kimmel Marketplace for forty hours with a veritable laundry list of demands? After breaking a lock, attracting some topless ladies (advocating disclothesure till disclosure), drawing crowds of hundreds to West Fourth, and attracting about a million cops, we were removed from the space and summarily suspended. We were carted off, evicted from our dorms, and put on probation, and a bizarrely apolitical, unnervingly self-satisfied press release from the University happily declared that “none of the students’ demands were met.” Take Back NYU!, the group that organized the whole mess, hasn’t been the same since. There are a lot of ways to feel about this. Most of the kids on campus seemed to feel (first) annoyed at their inability to access meal-plan quesadillas for forty hours and (second) sympathetic to some of our demands but baffled—and often incensed—by our tactical decisions. Property destruction! Direct action! Nonsense! It was many students’ first encounter with a radical demonstration that actually interfered with their lives, and it seemed to arouse chiefly resentment, given that our

reasons for occupying were so varied and (seemingly) disconnected. Even so, we were met with more sympathy than we in our militant cynicism expected. Many students’ main gripe with us was our extreme choice of tactic--because they understood and echoed many of our demands. This leads us to the inevitable conclusion that people are pissed off about their education at NYU. Not only this, but it also became apparent last year that students are capable of refusing to be invisible and silent in the fact of an authoritarian administration. Not just smelly anarcho-vegans and post-hippies, either. Indeed, at least a third of the “Kimmel Eighteen” who were suspended had never organized with Take Back NYU! before, but chose to stick with the occupation to the bitter end, despite the very real danger of arrest and expulsion. Students at NYU want to see tuition stabilization, a student senate whose resolutions actually mean something, priority when reserving space in Kimmel, and knowledge of how their tremendous amounts of tuition dollars are spent. They don’t want their money thrown into ridiculously elite, farflung campuses built on slave labor; they don’t want their tuition funding war profiteers or union busters, especially not when


they can barely afford to print out all the articles they need to. What united our many and varied demands? The idea that membership in an institution necessitates some kind of say in that institution. That is: the idea that you, the student, are an integral part of the NYU knowledge machine, and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity as such. Because you may not know it now, but there’s roughly nothing that you as a student have the right to do at NYU in order to make your voice heard, much less your desires a reality. Want to appeal to the Senate? Go ahead; even if they pass a resolution for something you believe in, that resolution is non-binding, and essentially serves as a suggestion to the Board of Trustees (and our Trustees are a piece of work, to put it lightly). You can rant and rave and ramble, you can publish an editorial in the WSN, you can organize with your friends and professors, you can rally in the streets, you can ask John Sexton to his face (if you can find him, and if you don’t get distracted by his creepy/endearing hugs), you can hold your own town halls, you can sign petitions and send letters and drop banners, you can occupy a building, but all of these tactics will leave you at best ignored and at worst suspended. The point: NYU is not trying to listen to you.

This, at its root, is what we were screaming about on the balcony at Kimmel. It’s why we broke the lock and scuffed up the floors, it’s why the College Republicans held up signs demanding access to quesedillas. Take Back NYU! pursued a two-year course of action from its inception using all of the established means for raising our voices as students at NYU. We even elected a senator! We exhausted lawful tactics. So when we hollered “WHOSE SCHOOL?” it was not a rhetorical question. Think about it: did you matriculate to NYU believing that it would somehow become your school? You may already refer to NYU as yours. But it’s more accurate to say that you are NYU’s. You’re giving them money, and because they are a private institution, they don’t have to tell you a thing about what they do with it or why—and they don’t have to listen to you if you’ve got a problem with that. Sexton likes to insist that the school’s finances are no place for politics, as if the two were extricable. It stands, however, that NYU makes political decisions with the way it spends its money—whether you like it or find it morally reprehensible. NYU’s utter ineptitude to handle student dissent, as demonstrated by their dealings with the occupation (refusing to negotiate in good faith, tricking our negotiators into leaving the Market-


place, then storming the room and running us out and suspending us) and with the actions leading up to it ought to demonstrate to you that something at NYU is not right—not serving the students—and that the administration is doing everything in their tremendous power to keep it that way. If you’re riled up—or at least intrigued—good. But you still may have questions about occupation as a tactic—mainly, what is it? An occupation is a radical reclamation of space that one ought to already lay claim to. We took back the Marketplace in the Kimmel Center for Student Life—the building to which we should have perhaps the most access as students at NYU. Why is taking space so important, and where do you get this sense of entitlement to that space? Taking space is a nonviolent means for essentially holding the University (or your landlord’s or boss’s property) hostage. It causes a direct disruption of regular student life, and must be acknowledged. NYU has seen its share of occupations—there were rad hippie freakins here the late sixties—and it has since constructed its buildings to be more or less occupation-proof, which is one of the reasons ours was quashed so quickly. Further, the more you realize that the University is not structured for the benefit of the students, the more you see manifestations of this spatially—especially the fact that Kimmel, the building where almost all student club meetings are held, is nearly impossible to reserve space in, and that NYU is constantly renting it out to non-student groups in favor of letting its own (far less profitable) students use the space. Kimmel is ours because we pay to be at NYU and to have access to it. Finally, occupations have worked worldwide in recent months: there was a string of university occupations in Greece, Italy, France, and especially the U.K., regarding university divestment from companies that profit from the Israeli siege in Gaza. Students secure a space, administrations

negotiate in good faith, and we all get a taste of direct democracy. The New School did it a month before us and a few blocks north—what, we thought, could possibly go wrong? Did we make mistakes? Of course we did. (I regularly describe the occupation as “a spectacular shitshow.”) We have different understandings of where we faltered, because we are different human beings with different analyses of what happened. We understand, at any rate, that there were things we could have done better— and most of us have been down to discuss that since the day we got evicted. One thing we can all agree on, though, is that this is not the last you’ll from restless students at NYU. And one thing we’re pretty pleased about is that—love us or hate us— this occupation got the entire campus talking about issues of accountability, democracy, and transparency at the University. And with this article and this disorientation guide, we are inviting you to do the same. The next time you see us screaming about whose school it is (and there will be a next time), take a minute and consider it. And maybe join in the yelling. We’ll welcome your raised voice in a way that NYU never would.


Students are workers. This may sound odd, because most of us don’t usually think of ourselves as such. We see ourselves as college students at a prestigious university—with the exciting lifestyle that entails—who just happen to have a job on the side to earn some extra money. It’s no surprise that we think this way because universities, employers, and politicians have a vested interest in college students thinking as little as possible about their place in the larger economy. But if we take a minute to see how we fit into things, its easy to see that we’re getting screwed—and that our complacency about tuition hikes, diminishing financial aid, and our low wage jobs is making life harder for just about everyone else outside the university. In the United States today about 20% of undergrads don’t work at all, 50% work an average of 25 hours per week, and 30% work full-time or more, sometimes holding down multiple jobs while taking classes. This means 10 to 12 million undergrads are in the workforce at any given time.1 At NYU we work on campus, swiping ID cards and making copies for near minimum wages, and we work off-campus in restaurants and stores. At campuses outside of big cities, students are seen as a prime labor force for warehouse, shipping, and other types of industrial work. Despite all the time we divert from studying and other activities to our jobs, we will still be in debt when we graduate. Why? Because over the past three decades the cost of going to college has been going through the roof for students at public and private schools alike. From 1995 to 2005, inflationadjusted tuition costs increased 36% at private colleges and 51% at public schools.2 NYU is leading the pack. Since 2002, NYU has raised tuition by at least 5% every year, meaning you are now paying $14,778 more per year a than freshman in 1999. NYU claims it is forced to hike tuition to cover teaching costs, pitting undergrads against grad student instructors and faculty in the process. Yet, despite years long campaigns by students, faculty, and campus unions, the administration refuses to disclose any financial information which would prove this. Meanwhile, they give themselves fat raises: in the 2003-04 fiscal year, when Sexton raised tuition 5.3%, he gave himself a whopping 16% raise, bringing his personal compensation package up to $897,139! 10


Moreover, in a sick, counter-intuitive twist, universities across the country have been raising tuition to attract more students. Recruiters found that raising the cost also raises the prestige of a school since it implies a better education is being offered. More students, and ones with better grades and SAT scores, then apply, boosting the schools’ ranking in U.S. News & World Report, and other indexes. This forces others schools to raise their fees, in order to compete.3 All this is happening as the federal and state governments are cutting their direct subsidies to universities (redirecting funds to the military) as well as their support for financial aid programs, such as the Pell grants, and increasingly offering grants and loans based on “merit” rather than on need. What does all this mean? Simply put, it is becoming harder and harder for people in the U.S. to go to college, and universities are once again becoming preserves for the white and the privileged (since race and class are so closely linked), like they were before World War II. Its not a coincidence that these changes in higher ed have taken place at the exact same time that the economy of the country as a whole has undergone drastic changes (deindustrialization and globalization)—with a tiny elite becoming disgustingly rich, while wages have declined and job security has evaporated for most working and middle class people. As student-workers we fit into this increasingly unequal and unjust economy in at least three ways: 1) we serve as a low-wage labor pool in the short term, 2) we reproduce “cognitive” capitalism in the longer term through our studies, 3) all the while becoming accustomed to a state of permanent indenture. To meet raising tuition, we have to work more. But when we don’t think of ourselves as workers, we are more willing to accept mediocre or bad conditions and pay because it seems temporary. Major companies now count on this and have been moving aggressively to hire thousands of undergrads for this very reason. Marc Bosquet shows, for example, how UPS partnered with local colleges in Louisville, KY, to hire thousands of students to unload trucks from midnight to 4 am, five nights a week, with promises of tuition remission to supplement

paltry wages. The majority of students never got the benefits because their jobs lead them to flunk or drop out. Yet the constant stream of “students” has allowed UPS and other companies to avoid hiring permanent employees more likely to fight for a livable wage and sane working conditions. True, NYU hasn’t yet sold its students down the river in so blatant a fashion, but its Wasserman Center, like student employment offices at most universities, does essentially function as a temp agency, offering us as low wage and disposable labor to all types of local employers. But let’s be clear: at high-price outfits like NYU, our primary financial relationship is not one of employment, but one of debt. The average student debt upon graduating from NYU in 2008 was $33,637, the highest of any of the top 50 private schools in the country! This amounts to a new form of indenture: from the age of 18 we learn that we will always be in debt, always struggling to pay off student loans, mortgages, and credit cards. This is how the illusion of the American Dream is maintained; as prices rise while wages stagnate and good jobs become harder to come by, we are encouraged to keep on buying— just on credit. Perhaps the hardest thing for most of us to get our heads around is that we are already workers not just when we are waiting tables or shelving book at the library, but when we are sitting through a lecture or writing a paper—when we are being students. In this late stage of capitalism, owners don’t just make their profits from people who manufacture things in factories, but also from the production of new knowledge, scientific innovations, and the shaping of how people feel. So in producing us as highlyskilled, highly-trained cognitive workers, capitalism is reproducing itself. Without a new crop of professionals a few years down the line, the system couldn’t keep working: like the structurally unemployed, or a parent raising kids to be new workers, we already fill a role in the economy whether we get a paycheck or not. This is easiest to see when we consider internships. Thousands of employers— primarily for-profit corporations—depend on students working unpaid internships to complete dayto-day tasks. Employers justify the countless hours of free labor students donate to them by labeling the work a learning experience. But what’s to differentiate that unpaid training from the training we get in the classroom, especially given the declining focus on humanities and acquiring “knowledge for its own sake” in universities increasingly focused only

on producing well-trained workers? The only question, then, is on who’s terms, and for who’s benefit, are we going to be studentworkers? Our struggles as students to lower tuition, to raise the amount of public funds going to education rather than war, to have better jobs on and off campus, to support affirmative action, to demand gender and ethnic studies courses, and to fight for open admissions, are struggles over distribution of wealth, and therefore power, in our new Gilded Age. They are part of the larger struggle to make sure no one is excluded from the right to a decent living, meaningful work, and, ultimately, happiness. This means our struggles over classes are, actually, part of class struggle. When we don’t take on these fights we make life harder for ourselves (and our parents!) now and in the future, and we let down other workers in more dire circumstances trying to win some respect and put food on their families’ plates. So what can we do? French students provided an inspiring example in 2005-2006 when they organized nationwide student strikes, and then took to the streets by the hundreds of thousands, to defeat a bill that exempted employers of college students from important labor laws. In the 1990s students at CUNY organized the Student Liberation Action Movement (SLAM) to fight steep tuition hikes at the New York’s public universities. In recent years NYU students have formed a Tuition Reform Action Coalition (TRAC) and Take Back NYU!, which have demanded economic transparency and an end to unjustified yearly tuition hikes. Students have power when they form student unions rather than simply rely on student government. How struggles over the economics of higher education unfold over the next four years is ultimately up to you and other incoming students. But the recent experience of studentworker activists has shown the absolute necessity to:
Footnotes: 1 Bosquet, How the University Works, 150. 2 Green, The University Against Itself, 84. 3 Green, The University Against Itself, 88-92 4 David Harvey, Limits to Capital, xi.


Study Abroad In the Age of Global Empire


Does the state of our times need any more explanation? It seems apparent: the US is the world’s policeman, Coca-Cola and McDonalds are cultural reference points for most of the world’s population, and laborers in developing countries manufacture products they can’t afford to buy. Is this any different than the empires of centuries past? The details may be different—after all, the British East India Company didn’t have a commitment to “business ethics” or “sustainability”—but once we cut through the corporate public relations jargon, the situation is fundamentally the same: a global empire of wealthy, developed countries (led by the US) extracting wealth from weaker nations. It is not a historical coincidence that the countries that were official colonies a hundred years ago are now dominated by multinationals based in the US or Europe, and are regularly policed by the US or NATO. One can explain this by citing “power vacuums”, corporate ingenuity, or even “uncivilized natives”—but the end result is the same: Empire. Domination. Exploitation. Misery. Until “sweatshop free” and “green” became advertizing buzzwords, we didn’t even have to think about the widespread misery our lifestyles have inflicted upon the rest of the world. Now, thankfully, we can just pay a little more for peace of mind—right? Is it that simple? Unfortunately, no. Our privilege as citizens of a first-world country is not so easily remedied, it has a tangible cost. Our tax dollars are still turned into military hardware that ensures US supremacy (“keeping us safe”—but why do we have so many enemies?). We still use oil in every aspect of our lives and invade when that supply might be threatened. Our toxic waste is still dumped off the coasts of countries that don’t have the money to defend their waters. And all the economists’ talk about the “fair market value of labor” doesn’t make the sick feeling in my stomach go away when a quarter of the world’s population is living on less than $1000 a year. With US citizenship, we also have the privilege to travel almost anywhere in the world. Many NYU students will end up doing just that, during a semester abroad. So what does this mean in the context of Empire? Are we spoiled intruders, cashing in on our privilege to live it up (while well protected and comfortable) in an exotic country? Are we curious scholars, seeking to learn a little bit from a different way of life? Or are we traitors to our nation, “gone native”, now seeing our home culture as exploitative and ethically repulsive? All of these archetypes have existed as long as the phenomenon of empire has—but hopefully none of these simplistic categories captures any of our behaviors fully (and I dearly hope not the first). My point is that the ways in which we behave in a foreign country—especially a developing one—is fraught with pitfalls. Without realizing it we can fall into the well worn paths that (most commonly white and privileged) foreigners have forged. These paths include exoticization, where one sees the “natives” as token examples of unique and genuine humanity, rather than for their flawed and complicated selves; entitlement, where a visitor thinks they are exceedingly important and welcome wherever they go, or where being in a foreign country is simply an excuse to party; cultural insensitivity, where one fails to realize that they are not in the US anymore, and makes an arrogant ass of themselves; or plain old racism, where the stereotypes that have been socially instilled in us since birth give rise to ugly judgments and preconceptions about people we’re just meeting. These social patterns fit perfectly with the economic, political, and cultural domination of Empire. We deny the humanity of another (through exoticization or dismissal), or view ourselves as more important (after all, we can pay for it, so we deserve it!), and thereby rationalize our privileged position in the world. In that ignorant state of mind, it is not necessary to question how this situation came to be. It is not necessary to wonder why we have the opportunity to visit places like Africa, Latin America, Asia, and Eastern Europe while hardly anybody in those areas of the world would be let into the US, even if they could afford a ticket. Concerns about empire become even more significant when one considers NYU’s global ambitions. John Sexton regularly flies to 7000 miles to give lectures at the nascent NYU campus

in Abu Dhabi. And who is he lecturing? The most elite, of course (read: privileged, upper-class, and well educated). NYU’s presence in Abu Dhabi—and for that matter, Argentina, the Czech Republic, or Ghana—is important because it bestows legitimacy. “Look”, those countries and institutions can say, “we have Americans here!” The emir of Abu Dhabi approached both Harvard and Yale (where he was turned down) before he convinced Sexton to expand the NYU franchise in his country. And now the children of the elite can say they have degrees from an American university. NYU is not in Abu Dhabi because of any commitment to scholarly rigor—it is in Abu Dhabi to provide prestige to the elite of that country, because they can pay for it. Imagine the absurdity of University of Ghana creating a satellite campus in the US, where American students and professors go because it is such a venerated institution. If such a campus were ever created, it would be likely that most of the student body from Ghana would immediately move to the new campus—simply because it is in the US. The impossibility of this situation shows clearly the power imbalance of the world today, where the US is undisputedly dominant. For NYU, like any other expanding corporation, local controversy is secondary. The widespread persecution of homosexuals and women in the United Arab Emirates is not a deal-breaker, nor is the exploitation of unprotected migrant laborers who are constructing the campus in Abu Dhabi. These problems will be addressed, as always, by a series of press releases promising that nothing is really wrong, and perhaps an NYU functionary will even receive a carefully guided tour of the construction site to make sure no workers have fallen to their deaths because of lax job-safety laws. NYU’s expansion in Abu Dhabi is analogous to the march of empire everywhere: create a sphere of influence based on historical domination, blanket any objections with propaganda and repression, and extract wealth. This process has created the neoliberal consensus in the world today—this is how empire has expands. We can use the ability to travel abroad to expand our conceptions of the world—to learn about different cultures without abstracting or essentializing them, to study the effects of centuries of Western economic domination, to talk to the people who are usually invisible to us, who we were taught to ignore. Or we can use our time abroad to party, to hang out with other privileged internationals, and to see all the tourist sites so we have some pictures for our friends and relatives about our fun semester in whatever foreign country. Of course, it’s also completely possible to have fun while learning to undermine empire—it just takes a little more creativity. The following are some suggestions for “alternative” study abroad programs, which more directly address the complicated situation we confront when we wish to travel abroad: Mexico Solidarity Network http://www.mexicosolidarity.org/ A nonprofit organization that works directly with community organizations and unions in Mexico, including the Zapatistas. Students travel to and live in communities in Chiapas, Mexico City, Tlaxcala, and Ciudad Juarez. CIEE http://www.ciee.org/ Offers exchange programs all over the world, where each student lives with a host family for the duration of the program. CUNY Union Semester http://www.unionsemester.org/ Not technically, study abroad (but NYU counts it as such), where students learn about US labor history, right here in New York City. Where There Be Dragons http://www.wheretherebedragons.com/ More rugged programs in many developing nations, where participants study and travel with a small group of other college students.


Student Government Vs Direct Democracy
During the occupation of Kimmel last protest tactics and claim that “most work February, occupier and CAS Senator Cait- (such as the Coca-Cola ban and divestment lin Boehne said she “didn’t care” if she was from genocide) is done in Senate commitrecalled from the Student Senate when the tees and councils”—the supposedly “apoccupation was over. Having spent two propriate” place to improve the University. years working for change within the Stu- However, they do not mention that resoludent Senate, she realized that the student tions such as the Coke ban were drafted government at NYU is, in her words, “an precisely because a massive publicity and institution whose sole function is to act as protest campaign exposed the company’s a democratic façade for an authoritarian abuses in Latin America and India, forcing administration.” Her actions and state- NYU’s cumbersome governance body to ments were condemned by respond. And to prove the the usual reactionaries, all The blind gratitude point further, the ban was whom have a vested inter- of those still faith- overturned last February est in the continuation of in the University Senate ful to student gov- (where students are only this façade. However, their ob- ernment resembles a one quarter of the vote), jections did not address dog’s pleasure at be- even though every single student council voted to Boehne’s fundamental ing fed scraps from uphold it. concerns—that the Student

his master’s table. Senate is essentially powerWhile politicians evless when it comes to truly erywhere would like to altering the direction of the University. It is deny the value of protest and direct action, now common knowledge that the Student it is clear that forceful steps are necessary Senator’s Council only has the ability to when we wish to change unaccountable make nonbinding “recommendations” to power structures. Instead of decrying prothe Board of Trustees. And while certain test, those representatives who desire real Senators defend this role, saying that we change should use their positions within should be thankful for attending a univer- government to reshape it into a form that sity that “listens” to us, we believe that de- is truly democratic. If this is not possible, mocracy entails much more than dubious they may find it necessary to work outside promises that our concerns are heard. De- the system entirely. mocracy implies both collective power and Democracy doesn’t just look like a accountability—which is obviously absent small group of students listening to John in the decision-making structure of NYU. Sexton brief them on the University’s latThe blind gratitude of those still faithful to student government resembles a dog’s pleasure at being fed scraps from his master’s table. On the other hand, Boehne was fed up with being talked at by John Sexton for two hours at every Senate meeting, and after seeing actual votes occur only three times in two years, she decided to take a more rigorous stand. The Senate’s defenders criticized the use of est plans. It looks like raucous marches, crowded meetings, and an ongoing exchange of ideas among all parties. As it stands now, there is no exchange—the rulers of the University can choose whether or not they want to listen to us. We want to see a University where they have to listen to us, because the university exists for us, the students.


Officers of the Board
(including Sexton)

The Board of Trustees
University Senate President Sexton University Administration Admin. Management Council Deans Council Student Senators Council
Less students, more power!

Faculty Senators Council

University Committee on Student Life

Student Senators Council (SSC) consists of: * 15 Senators (1 from each school) * 7 Senators-at-Large (appointed by elected members of SSC)

● Reps. from Faculty Senate, Deans Council, & Student Affairs ● Chairs of UCSL Subcommittees (IGC, Student Advisory Board, and Inter-Hall Residential Council) ● Presidents of each school’s Student Council All Student Councils

(one for each grad and undergrad school) CAS GSAS Tisch Tisch Grad Gallatin Gallatin Grad Stern Stern Grad Steinhardt Steinhardt Grad Med Law Wagner SCPS Dentistry Social Work

Constituents (You!)
Board of Trustees: Composed of 46 rich folks who buy their membership. Eight of the richest + John Sexton make up the officers of the board, who make all the important (read: $$$) decisions. They are also the only individuals who have access to NYU's entire operating budget. Many of these dudes have been involved in shady business deals (see Trustee article). The officers of the board are 88% white, 100% male, 100% rich, and 100% old. John Sexton: presides over the Senate and makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees All-U Senate: Made up of student and faculty senators, deans, and some administrators. Actual voting rarely occurs here, it’s more a tool the administration uses for information dissemination. Once, though, in 2005, the Senate actually pushed through a university-wide ban on Coke for unethical labor practices in their bottling plants. The most power a student or faculty senator has is the power to make recommendations to John Sexton, who will then relay the message (we hope) to the board of trustees. Senate meetings are closed, unless you can score a guest pass (ask your senator for one!). Student Senators Council: Exclusively student senators. This meeting is also closed. University Committee on Student Life: Student senators + alternate senators + student council presidents + some student life-y admin. This meeting is open, so come and listen to them discuss Strawberry Fest. Most discussion happens in committees, so this is really just an information spread-fest, like USenate. Student Council: This is the base level of student government at NYU. Every undergrad and grad school at NYU has a student council. Student councils manage clubs within their respective schools and advocate for their students to the upper levels of student government, but most focus on building “a sense of community.” Anyone can join and the meetings are always open. You can obtain voting rights in your student council if you attend a few meetings. Check here: www.nyu.edu/stugov/councils.html for info about your school’s student council.


A few of the fine oligarchs who run your school

Meet the Trustees!

Ken Langone

Among the world’s richest people and namesake of NYU’s Medical Center thanks to a $200 million dollar donation, Ken Langone was the subject of legal prosecution for for providing a $190 million dollar pay package to fellow Trustee Ken Grasso while Grasso was CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, and Langone the head of its board. Langone also founded Home Depot and Choicepoint Inc, which sells private data culled from credit card records and non-disclosed sources to the Department of Homeland Security, and takes government contracts to spy on citizens suspected of terrorism. Choicepoint also has been sued for allowing the unauthorized release of government records to its customers.

Catherine Reynolds

Others You Might Want to Know...
sands of dollars to the GOP.

A pioneer of “social entrepenuership”, Catherine Reynolds is the CEO of student loan company EduCap, which provides loans for students at private colleges. Despite EduCap being a non-profit, Reynolds owns a $30 million Gulfstream Jet and has been paid millions of dollars in annual compensation, enough to donate $38 million to the Smithsonian in 2003. Reynolds can afford such excess partially because EduCap has been caught issuing loans at rates substantially above those of for-profit companies. For that, and for potential kickbacks issued to universities, the IRS opened an investigation into EduCap in late 2007. Reynolds has made a fortune off of putting students like you in debt - and she helps call the shots on NYU’s tuition hikes.

Marc Bell CEO of the fine progressive magazine Penthouse who has donated thouLarry Silverstein As the CEO of Silverstein Properties, leased the World Trade Daniel Tisch Heir to the Tisch fortune, which was based on the family’s ownerCenter for 99 years beginning in 2001, and attempted to profit off the deaths of thousands by demanding two payouts from his insurers - one for each of the towers. ship of Lorillard Tobacco, the manufactuers of Newport cigarettes, and pioneered the strategy of marketing menthol cigarettes to African Americans.

Martin Lipton A lawyer that made a fortune running mergers and acquisitions in
the Reaganomics 80s, Lipton has since become vocally opposed to ethical investment policies and activist shareholders. Larry Silverstein and Ken Langone’s lawyer.

Anthony Welters Executive Vice President of UnitedHealth, a health care com-


pany whose top brass were under federal investigation for backdating stock options. The NY Attourney General opened an investigation on UnitedHealth for shortchanging its customers on insurance compensation for medical procedures, including those covered by United Health.

Activist Resource Map

A. Bluestockings Radical Books 172 Allen Street (212) 777-6028 A co-operative, not-for-profit radical bookstore. One of the few remaining in all of New York City! $1 coffee and lots of great events to fulfill your radical and literary needs! B. Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives 70 Washington Square South (212) 998-2630 Did you know that you have a radical resource right under your nose? The Tamiment Library on the 10th floor of Bobst Library is a great way to learn about radical and labor movements in the US. It is open to the public so anyone (i.e. your non-NYU friends) can get into Bobst if they are (first) going to Tamiment.

C. ABC No Rio 156 Rivington Street (212) 254-3697 An Artist Collective, Radical Center and Zine Library among other things. ABC No Rio also hosts a weekly hardcore/punk matinee on Saturday afternoons as well as such radical and activist collectives as Food Not Bombs, Books Through Bars and the Lower East Side Biography project. Also a great zine library (if you’re interested in zines, be sure to check out Bluestockings and the Barnard Zine Library at Columbia)! D. Judson Memorial Church 55 Washington Square South (212) 477-0351 Baptist Church devoted to often-controversial social outreach programs as well as art programs and performances.

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E. Lower East Side Tenement Museum 91 Orchard Street (212) 431-0233 Museum dedicated to the immigrant history of the Lower East Side. F. Henry Street Settlement: Abrons Arts Center 466 Grand St (212) 598-0400 Progressive Arts Center that offers arts programs and performance to Lower East Siders as well as other NYC residents. Henry Street Settlement also offers shelter, daycare and health services as well as many other programs that enrich the lives of New Yorkers. G. Brecht Forum 451 West Street (212) 242-4201 A center for arts and education dedicated to social justice in the New York cosmopolitan area. The Brecht Forum hosts a variety of events from lectures and classes to movie screenings and art exhibitions. H. 4th Street Food Co-Op 58 East 4th Street (212) 674-3623 The only volunteer-run food co-operative in Lower Manhattan. Join today! If you don’t join, no worries, you can still shop anyway! I. Culture Project 55 Mercer Street (212) 925-1806 Theatre that brings talented actors and writers together to put on politically and socially relevant pieces. Tischies take note. J. Time’s Up 156 Rivington St (212) 802-8222 times-up.org Bikes, bikes, bikes. If you have ever wanted to ride a bike or learn how to fix a bike or just learn some more about bikes, this is the place. Time’s Up! also hosts events, including some awesome parties after Critical Mass. K. Housing Works Bookstore Cafe 126 Crosby Street (212) 334-3324 Used bookstore and volunteer-run cafe whose proceeds go towards fighting AIDS and helping the homeless and other low-income families of New York. L. Bowery Poetry Club 308 Bowery (212) 614-0505 Poetry and Revolution go together nicely. M. Nuyorican Poets Cafe Inc 236 East 3rd Street (212) 505-8183 What did we say before about poetry and revolution? N. LGBT Center 208 West 13th Street (212) 620-7310 A hub of LGBT activists, organizations, services, and

educational materials. If NYU doesn’t meet your LGBT needs, be sure to check out the myriad of services that this 25-year old center has. O. Saint Marks Church 131 East 10th Street (212) 647-6377 Like Judson Church, this church is devoted to social activism. Be sure to check out Reverend Billy’s satirical Church of Stop Shopping. P. War Resisters League 339 Lafayette Street (212) 228-0450 www.warresisters.org An 80+ year old radical pacifist organization. The WRL organizes against war and for nonviolent revolution locally and nationally

In Brooklyn (not pictured)
Change You Want to See Gallery 84 Havemeyer St changeyouwanttosee.org A multi-purpose venue that hosts free lectures, screenings, meetings, and workshops relating to art, activism, technology and theory. Time’s Up! Brooklyn 99 S. 6th St. times-up.org The newer Time’s Up space in Brooklyn. 123 Community Space 123 Tompkins Ave http://123communityspace.org/ An anarchist community center in Bed-Stuy, with an after-school program, a food co-op, and bike workshop. Unfortunately, the space is being evicted because the landlord doesn’t want a community center in his building.

Manhattan Radical History
1. 53 Christopher Street Site of the Stonewall Inn, where in 1969 riots gave birth to the gay liberation movement in the U.S. 2. White Horse Tavern 567 Hudson Street Gathering place for many members of 60’s bohemian culture as well as labor rights leaders. 3. 23-29 Washington Place Site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire -- the largest industrial disaster in the history of the city of New York, causing the death of 148 garment workers who either died from the fire or jumped to their deaths. 4. 1 Bowling Green Site of the former Fort Amsterdam which served as administrative headquarters for the Dutch and British up until the end of the American Revolution. It was set on fire by poor whites and blacks in 1741 as part of a supposed plot to revolt and level NYC by fire. It was also the site of the Algonquin Indian massacres.


5. 605 East 9th Street Formerly P.S. 64 and the Charas/El Bohio Cultural Center. After this school closed down it was established by squatting artists as a radical community center (Charas/El Bohio). The building was recently made a historical landmark. 6. Tompkins Square Park On August 6-7, 1988, Police battled with “residents” of the park; people who had taken up residence in the park and who refused to abide by the recent curfew restrictions. The police brutality witnessed at this riot was some of the worse people had seen in years. 7. 539, 541 and 545 East 13th Street In 1995, cops battled squatters at these addresses for twelve hours. Some squatters had been living in these buildings for close to ten years and had worked to make the buildings habitable again. Residents and neighbors participated in peaceful protest in order to keep their homes. 8. 23 5th Avenue Home of Mabel Dodge, a patron of the arts who held a weekly “salon” at this site. Radicals such as Emma Goldman, Maragaret Sanger, “Big Bill” Haywood, Lincoln Steffens, and John Reed, were often in attendance. 9. 18 West 11th Street Site of the Weathermen House. The radical group known as the Weather Underground, were assembling a bomb to use at Fort Dix when it prematurely detonated, killing three members of the group and destroying the house. 10. 208 East 13th Street Former home of Emma Goldman, radical activist and anarchist. 11. New York Stock Exchange Hey what’s the stock exchange doing on here?! Yes my friends, there have even been radical happenings within the city’s greatest center for capitalism. In 1967 Abbie Hoffman declared the death of money and led protesters into the NYSE gallery. They proceeded to throw handfuls of money (mostly fake) at the traders below. After this incident the gallery was enclosed in bullet-proof glass. 12. Five Points One of the most notable slums in New York History.




Why I Don’t Volunteer, Why I Don’t Want an Internship
It’s not easy to find peace about your role as a student in the city. What are you going to say when you’re walking to class and a homeless man asks you for change? What is there to do about the trash that accumulates on the streets, making New York at night look nothing less than post-apocalyptic? What about the injustice of the school system you’ve risen to the top of? Our university and the city at large provide resources to assuage this discomfort. Maybe you’ve already heard about community service workdays, the dean’s team, Oxfam, and internships with non-profit organizations. Community service fairs can connect you with organizations outside the university that work in schools, homeless shelters, food pantries, non-profit bookstores, thrift shops, daycares, adult education centers, and soup kitchens. When I first moved to the city, I was susceptible to all of this. Through NYU, I volunteered at a public school, teaching ESL kids how to write resumes. I painted schools, worked in a food pantry, went to yoga, attended Buddhist lectures about compassion and non-violence, became vegan, and worked in a non-profit bookstore. I know people who’ve worked much harder, and done much more. Not everyone has responded or will react the same way, but that is what I did. I got over my guilt by working for free, and the city went on. After about a year, I began to notice that the other people in these organizations had something in common. The other volunteers at the food pantry, the members of NYU’s environmental club, the inhabitants of the “green” dorm, the vegans I knew, the poets I took classes with, the bodies around me in yoga class, were almost all female. Moreover, nothing we wanted to change, changed. Just because we fed one person didn’t mean there were fewer hungry people. Just because we taught kids how to write resumes didn’t mean there were jobs for them, or that they would be treated respectfully at work. The maintenance of the American capitalist city hinges on gendered divisions of

labor. The U.S. government doesn’t give money to social work because it doesn’t have to. It doesn’t have to because people (read, upper-middle-class women) will do the work for free or marginal pay. The delegation of women to bear the spiritual burden of their civilizations is nothing new. American Christian institutions rode on the work of women who, modeling themselves on male ideals of compassion, cooked and led charity outreach. Cities rode on the charity of churches. Post-WWI and II, feminist scholars have paid attention to the professionalization of domestic work in the service sector, one of the lowest paid sectors of the economy: nursing, teaching, social work, housecleaning, haircutting, laundering. Nor is the availability of rituals to leaven the burden a recent development. Most advertisements cater to women, for products from food to make-up to music to dance classes to cigarettes. Poet and ancient Greek scholar Anne Carson writes, “ancient society was happy to have women drain off such unpleasant tendencies and raw emotion into a leakproof ritual container” (132). It is not an accident that women constitute the majority of activist and spiritual collectives. Carson goes on: “As if the entire female gender were a kind of collective bad memory of unspeakable things, patriarchal order like a well-intentioned psychoanalyst seems to conceive its therapeutic responsibility as the channeling of this bad sound into politically appropriate containers” (134). “Politically appropriate containers” include, of course, anything you can buy: poetry journals, yoga classes, mixed drinks, psychotherapy, and, if time is money, soup kitchens. It is important to look at any and all social service work and activism as parts of economic history even as we’re trying to change it. Community-based activism is not always so far away in intent and structure from PTAs. When we work at food co-ops, or volunteer at bookstores, or feed hungry people, or lead community art therapy classes, what kind of work are we doing, and for whose benefit? The ways gendered divisions of labor


maintain violence is particularly apparent during wartime. Before the Civil War, most schoolteachers were male. When men went to battle, women took over, and because the nurturing aspects of teaching were thought appropriate venues for female expression, kept their positions. During WWI, women worked as nurses, teachers, clerks, saleswomen, and secretaries, and conserved supplies. After WWII, women worked as social workers, campaigners, and counselors. By making the home front stable, women justified war and imperialism for men. During WWI, Virginia Woolf argued that women participate in war by agreeing to witness it. What would have happened during the Civil War if women had refused to take over teaching positions? As a wife of an alcoholic inadvertently condones his drinking by washing his clothes for him, women can enable unjust societies to perpetuate themselves by caring for its marginalized populations. In the same essay, Woolf tells men asking for her help, you started this, so don’t ask me to fix it. I’ve never been a nihilist. I’m not saying that you should refuse an internship if you’re committed to learning something that you can’t understand by sitting in a classroom. I’m not saying you should never do volunteer work, if you have the time and desire to work outside the economic system, and I’m certainly not saying that paid work is more valid than voluntary labor. I’m not saying that you should deny yourself the pleasures and cultural diversity of the city just because they chose you as a victim/target audience. As a female, though, I will not give my body or time to smoothing things over as long as they hold up. I’m not giving my money to companies that want me to tranquilize myself by dieting or listening to sad white boy music or drinking or stretching in yoga class. I am arguing that “charity” and activist work participate in war culture and capitalism. I am arguing that society wants us to heal ourselves, as long as we don’t do anything too drastic once we exhume our discontent. As

someone who has always been interested in activism and in spiritual life, I am now saying that sometimes trying to make things better is just enough to keep them as they are.

So if you find yourself bringing coffee to the white man who runs the journal that publishes poetry about the grief of industrial society, think about what you could be doing to industrial society instead. The whiny song your friend’s band (yes, most of the music scene in NYC is male) sings about urban loneliness doesn’t have to be your loneliness. You don’t have to be the tragic anorexic girl in those male-directed independent films, and no, you don’t have to waste your time or money watching them. You don’t have to spend all your free time trying to teach public school children how to write resumes, when you don’t even really think that anyone should have to write a resume, or believe that you’re special just because someone already forced you to write one. You don’t have to run fundraising committees (do you really want to help rich people feel better about themselves by giving you money?). At the end of the day, are men earning millions of dollars from the beer you drink to relax afterwards? This is not about the fight to achieve economic equality for women in the job market. Instead, I ask how your choices salve the wounds of the system that perpetuates aggression toward you and others who share your anatomy. Guilt and self-destruction not useful here. If you’re volunteering somewhere, pay attention to your audience. What happens if you ask a high school kid what she wants? What are you going to say in the space that you have, and who do you want to hear it?


An Approach to Education
The university student is a subject in the process of being murdered. She is a being capable of thought and reflection, but her energies are constantly redirected into the vainest realms, until emptiness roars out of the abyss of useless knowledge and declares that life itself is worthless. When the murderous socialization process of education is complete we are left with an intelligent living dead, with ghosts that know how to follow orders. Sleep in. Go to class. Sit through it. If I am a good student, I take notes (and I might have even done the reading). Back in the dorm, do work or hang out until it’s time to get drunk. Try to enjoy it. Go to sleep alone, or in the tenuous grasp of another unknown body. Repeat for four years. After all that, we are ready to graduate and grudgingly accept our fates within society. With a university diploma we are supposed to have a shot at being “well-off ”. We have options, they tell us. No longer. We now go back to live with our parents, work in coffee shops and restaurants, and wait for life to begin. The privilege of a university education has become a safety net for our emotional poverty; able to survive materially, we waste away from the hunger of deferred dreams. And the question “What are you doing after graduation?” is rarely met with a straight answer. “Mourning.” Because life will never begin. Because we are dead. Four years of learning more and more about less and less. Four years of becoming not quite ourselves, of learning to carry the illusions that are thrust upon us. We are just barely interested in our studies, just enough to continue, just enough to fill our heads with empty knowledge for the sake of our future. We either suffer

through our professional trainings or fill our schedules with a series of irrelevant masturbations. Some rigorously pursue that object that is not currently theirs (doctor, lawyer, ecologist, businessperson) while others bide their time in an academically hedonistic laze. In one case, the student rushes headlong towards death. In the other, he waits for it to find him. In both, a procession of ghosts exits the graduation ceremony. Each one is ready to wait patiently for life to begin or to perform the task it is relegated to. We are bred to be patient, enduring, and only marginally unhappy. It is no wonder that apathy is an epidemic among students. We have nothing to look forward to except those moments we steal away from our colonized existence. Grasping at straws, we get high, have parties, sneak food out of the dining halls. These forms only allow us to maintain a pittance of sanity, the equivalent of a short breath of air in the midst of drowning. We try not to be too bored, because it would kill us too suddenly. We prefer a death that is slower and much less noticeable. When a class finally is interesting, it is in spite of everything the university stands for—it occurs in those moments when we overcome our alienation, communicate honestly, forget grades, and begin to pursue truth in the face of all the lies we have been told. For a split second, the never-ending internal monologue of “Why am I in class right now?” is interrupted, and we are startled by our understanding. We suddenly know why we are here, and wish all our classes could be so profound. It is no coincidence that they are not. As the university’s purpose is to produce marketable knowledge and productive workers, these moments of discovery are purely secondary. The institution, more concerned with the result than the act, salvages the product of these moments into objects that can be sold—prestige, academic papers, “an education”—but the process of discovery remains honest as long as it stays under the radar. For all of us, it is a daunting task to attempt to avoid being murdered and turned into one of those patient enduring ghosts. Everything we see forces or convinces us to become a whisper of our once vivacious selves--our gestures reduced to dishonest facsimiles, our thoughts proceeding all too logically, our lives just barely worth living, just enough to continue. As survivors, we search for moments of honest connection to sustain us, while we deepen and enlarge the network of ties based on more than the misery of the exchange of commodities. We desire to realize our collective subjectivity, to impose it upon a world that has imposed death upon us for so long. In the academy, we will derive the fullest knowledge from interactions beyond grades or assignments. We will pursue career training cynically, with the hope of gaining enough information to manipulate those who still believe that capitalism deserves to exist. We will treat the university as an oxymoron—as a monument to hegemony which can nonetheless be infiltrated and ransacked. We hope to learn enough to restore ghosts to more corporeal forms.

Going to School in New York City
Going to college, taking classes, eventually choosing a major, is part of the process channeling you into a position in the labor economy. Your parents know it, even if you don’t. It started when you were in kindergarten and a teacher complimented you on your ability to build sandcastles really well, or to keep your desk clean, or to settle conflict. Of course, this distribution of reward in schools often initiates the gender binary as well. As a Gallatin student, I was particularly susceptible to the illusion that I came to college to better understand the structure of society and to figure out how to change it. Many of the classes I have taken and the professors who have taught me do truly aspire toward this goal, and I am grateful to them. But none of these intentions, theirs or mine, change the fact that that the primary function of education in the United States is to, through a complex system of racial, gender and class segregation, direct people toward often predetermined roles that hold up our society. And so when we walk around New York City, we walk around as part of the labor force: as students. We represent New York University as an institution and ourselves as participants in its actions in the community. When we attend an NYU party populated by mostly white, upper-middle class students in the middle of a Latino neighborhood, we are part of the city. When we walk past a homeless person on the street and choose to give or not give her money, we are part of the city. When we write a paper for a class about the problems of labor inequality in New York City, we are writing a paper, in a class, in an institution, in a city, for an audience of a professor who works for an institution and lives in a city. In our first writing classes at NYU, professors ask us to consider who our audiences are. And who is our audience? When we choose to surround ourselves with people who think like us and share our cultural values, we consent to exist as another commodity in the city. Activists are not immune to this. We sat through the standardized testing of elementary school, some of us passed through metal detectors to enter our high schools, we agreed to sit silently during the SAT, we filled in bubbles, we used number two pencils, we signed our names—and all in preparation for a role much less passive and much less innocent. To arrive at the point where we can participate in the mechanism of a city, to give money to its bars and restaurants and to gentrify its neighborhoods. To walk to class in the morning and pass five homeless people without stopping. To be tutors in public high schools and tell students that they must learn what we learned or they will never have the “advantages” we have as students and later as laborers. To have professors read some of our best thoughts and critiques and to evaluate and then forget them, and to have cashiers at delis and bodegas witness the manifestations of our despair. To have companies and corporations observe and exploit our malaise. So who is our audience? Who do you want to witness your thoughts and choices? We have to work to escape the segregation preordained by the city and by our role in it as students and consumers. Whose opinion do you want to hear, and who do you want to evaluate your work?


Reading List
Race and Racism The Angela Y. Davis Reader, edited by Joy James This Bridge Called My Back, edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa Orientalism, Edward Said White Like Me, Tim Wise The Cost of Privilege, Chip Smith Racial Formation in the U.S., Winant & Omi Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde Politics Hegemony or Survival, Noam Chomsky Days of War and Nights of Love, Crimethinc. The Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord How Non-Violence Protects the State, Peter Gelderloos Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology, David Graeber Anarchy, A Graphic Guide, Clifford Harper Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Friere Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau The Coming Insurrection, The Invisible Committee Do It!, Jerry Rubin T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Hakim Bey Feminism/Gender Politics The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir Feminism is for Everybody, bell hooks The Sexual Politics of Meat, Carol Adams Under Western Eyes and Feminism Without Borders, Chandra Mohanty Cunt, Inga Muscio and Betty Dodson The Ethical Slut, Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy Gender Outlaw, Kate Bornstein Philosophy Monolingualism of the Other, Jacques Derrida Against History, Against Leviathan!, Fredy Perlman The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault A Moral Equivalent of War, William James The Politics of Experience, R.D. Laing Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzche Animal Liberation, Peter Singer The Revolution of Everyday Life, Raoul Vaneigem Ishmael, Daniel Quinn Auto/Biographies Memoirs of a Revolutionist, Vera Figner Cold War Fugitive, Gil Green The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Alex Haley Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist, Alexander Berkman Soon to be a Major Motion Picture, Abbie Hoffman Living My Life, Emma Goldman Radical History Detroit, I Do Mind Dying, Georgakas & Surkin War at Home, Brian Glick Horizontalism, Maria Sitrin A Promise and a Way of Life: White Anti-Racist Activism, Becky Thompson We Will Return in the Whirlwind, M. Ahmad A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn Fiction/Literature Their Eyes Were Watching God, Z.N. Hurston The Awakening, Kate Chopin Glass, Irony, and God, Anne Carson The Little Prince, Antoine de

Saint Exupéry Howl, Allen Ginsberg The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin We, Yevgeny Zamyatin The Peace of Utrecht, Alice Munro Surfacing, Margaret Atwood Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell The Golden Compass series, Philip Pullman Black Boy, Richard Wright The Three Guineas, Virginia Woolf Woman on the Edge of Time, Marge Piercy Current Struggles Infection and Inequality, Paul Farmer Endgame, Derrick Jensen No Logo, Naomi Klein Planet of Slums, Mike Davis Periodicals Rolling Thunder Z Magazine Earth First! Journal Anarcho-Syndicalist Review Left Turn Fire to the Prisons


Radical Faculty

NYU is chock-full of rad professors and T.A.s. So why are you settling for boring lectures? This is by no means an exaustive list, let us know about the ones we missed!
Gallatin Sinan Antoon – orientalism, the middle east Bill Caspary – democratic community education Stephen Duncombe – cultural resistance, media Antonio Lauria-Perricelli – militaries, globalization Patrick McCreery – queer politics Kim Phillips-Fein – labor Rene Poitevin – gentrification, organizing Aarti Shahani – immigrants, race, deportation George Shulman – race, communication studies Alejandro Velasco – Latin America, revolution! Sociology Vivek Chibber – socialism, globalization Jeff Goodwin – social movement theory Michael McCarthy – labor, socialism Rene Rojas – marxist Social and Cultural Analysis Lisa Duggan – gender and queer studies, feminisms Jennifer Morgan – African-American studies, feminisms Crystal Parikh – race, queer studies & feminisms, post-colonialism Khary Polk – American studies Neil Brenner – metropolitan studies Andrew Ross – labor studies Gayatri Gopinath – transnational feminism, queer diasporas, race Josie Saldana – Latin America, latino/a culture, post-colonialism Nikhil Pal Singh – race and black radicalism Andy Cornell – fuckin’ worked on last year’s disorientation guide 26

Politics Christine Harrington – neoliberal fallacies, community politics Bertell Ollman – marxism Journalism Craig Wolff – police brutality, Comparitive Literature Kristin Ross – radical history and theory of France History Manu Goswami – postcolonialism Greg Grandin – Latin America, American imperialism Mary Nolan – European women’s history, post-WWII world order Performance Studies Jose Munoz – queer theory Tavia Nyong’o – race, sexuality Law Amy Adler – GSOC, feminist Jerry Lopez – community issues, race Steinhardt Pedro Noguera – urban schools Lisa Stulberg – race, urban schooling Tisch Randy Martin – marxism, political performance Elizabeth OuYang – civil rights attorney, community activism

Activist clubs @ NYU
National Organization for Women (NOW) Now.club@nyu.edu www.now-nyu.blogspot.com Earth Matters nyu.earthmatters@gmail.com www.nyu.edu/clubs/earthmatters ACLU@NYU Aclu.club@nyu.edu Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) Can.club@nyu.edu Free Culture Free.culture.club@ nyu.edu Informed Democracy Informed.democracy. club@nyu.edu NAACP@NYU Naacp.club@nyu. edu FilmAid @ NYU meredithlmeyer@ gmail.com World Health Initiative Whi.club@nyu.edu Access Health acchealth@gmail.com www.nyu.edu/clubs/access.health Cruelty-Free NYU seal.club@nyu.edu Students Creating Radical Change (SCRC) scrc.club@nyu.edu Students Taking Action in Darfur (STAND) Stand.club@nyu.edu Voices for Choice Voicesforchoice.club@nyu.edu Journal of Human Rights Journal.humanrights.club@nyu.edu Latinos Unidos con Honor y Amistad (LUCHA) www.nyu.edu/clubs/ lucha Queer Union www.nyu.edu/clubs/ queerunion The Icarus Project @ NYU icarus@gallatinstudent.com theicarusproject.net NYU Journal of Global Affairs Jga.club@nyu.edu www.gallatinstudent. com/jga Oxfam American @ NYU Oxfam.america.club@nyu.edu www.nyu.edu/clubs/Oxfam Amnesty International @ NYU Amnesty.club@nyu.edu www.nyu.edu/clubs/amnesty.international Students for Justice in Palestine justiceinpalestine.club@nyu.edu Community Roots c-roots@list.nyu.edu