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/ October 23, 2012
Anti-2031 Marchers Chase Student Debt Monster Through Alumni Day Event

This past Saturday at 12:30 pm, Washington Square Park was full of protest.

The anti-2031-plan contingency, including the Faculty Against the Sexton Plan and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (and the obligatory Occupy protestors), rallied alongside a group called the All In The Red, an activist network raising awareness about student debt. This kickoff to the “Stop the Purple Monster” march drew about 100 students, alumni, and inhabitants of the Village. The university was hosting its Alumni Day events, and the goal of the marchers was to pleasantly inform the alumni of NYU’s massive expansion plan and gain some supporters in the process.

Many demonstrators dressed in red and purple were live-vlogging and live-tweeting the event. There was a band dressed like leprechauns, a dancing purple “NYU Student Debt” monster, and angry dollar sign puppets on scene.

About fifteen minutes into this Alice-in-Wonderland-like trip, faculty member Adam Becker gave a speech explaining their plea:

“Without consultation with its faculty or its neighbors, NYU administration has decided to expand in Greenwich Village, and this is monstrous. . . 2031 is the finish date, but how long does construction usually take in New York City? And it will cost a fortune. This is monstrous. This expansion will lead to higher tuition and more student debt. This is monstrous. Our elected officials … have betrayed us! Where does all this monstrousness come from? Greed, arrogance, and our failure to respond to it.”

Becker made it clear that the rally meant to protest NYU’s administration and the 2031 plan, not the NYU institution in general. Passing by, one anonymous Occupier remarked, “It feels like one of those pyramid schemes … except they’re juggling and gambling with our education, which is just sick. And our green spaces! Then you have to look forward to the 55% unemployment rate when you graduate.”

Many raised the complaint that not enough students and families were informed, hence the march through NYU’s Alumni Day festivities.

The City Council approved the expansion plan by a 44-to-1 vote this past July, after the proposed buildings’ sizes were reduced. NYU officials are confident that the plan will begin its construction process, unless the NYU faculty-led lawsuit against it gains traction.

Photo courtesy of the author. For background on the details of plan, check out our previous coverage. Also see our most recent report on the backlash.