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It hasn’t been easy for Bob Kerrey. In 2001 the New School president admitted that he and his team of Navy SEALS killed thirteen civilian villagers during a Vietnam War mission, which hardly got the Manhattan liberal academics throwing celebratory parades for him. Then on December 10, 2008, the New School Senior Faculty gave a vote of no confidence to Bob Kerrey following the departure of their fifth provost during Kerrey’s seven year tenure, Joseph W. Westphal, and Kerrey’s assumption of the provost role. More importantly, Kerrey and Vice President James Murtha have decided to demolish the building that now holds the New School’s primary research library in favor of building a new flagship building, since libraries aren't really necessary for colleges. Or something.
Earlier today New School grad student Phillip Quintero told CollegeOTR:
There is significant evidence that he is a war criminal, and that his political agenda as a whole is offensive to the political legacy of the school…Our serious research library, which has always been mediocre at best, is in the building we are currently occupying. They have shipped most of the books into storage, and this building is being closed over the holiday. Once this building is closed, we will have no serious research space and no research library.
Now a bunch of New School kids calling themselves the New School in Exile are echoing faculty disapproval through a protest, which they have imbued with an almost militaristic outrage, calling the protest an “occupation” of one of the school’s buildings. The group has cited its grievances such as:
The university is being treated as a profit-making venture at whose altar the requirements of scholarship are routinely sacrificed. We have been systematically stripped of the most basic resources necessary for academic excellence, including adequate funding, spaces in which to study and engage with each other, and a working library. We demand more opportunities for student funding, and we are willing to work for them. We need public spaces in which to foster a public sphere and an academic community.The absence of a serious library and its related resources for research is absolutely unacceptable and should not even be an issue of contention in an academic institution.
Today New School in Exile posted a blog detailing Day Two of the protest and NYPD involvement saying:
A couple of our comrades have been roughed up and a couple arrested. But we still have control. The New York Times and Democracy Now are still standing strong with us! For this we salute them. Thank you to everyone out there who is keeping up. We will continue to try and get you information. If you know civil rights lawyers in NYC please post their name's and Phone numbers. Yours with Resolve.
Perhaps Kerrey’s political stance should not disqualify him as a competent New School president, but demolishing the library is a grave misappropriation of school funding. Yes, the sometimes pseudo-Marxist rhetoric so de rigeur in academia (comrades!?) may be a bit self-important and alienating. Yes, some of the students may be a little high on playing Che Guevara. Yet New School in Exile is absolutely correct; it is ludicrous for a serious institution of higher education to eradicate their major research library. With on-campus tuition running $48,406 per year, students should be provided with basic educational resources such as a library.
Those interested in participating can join the protestors at 65 5th Avenue.