Exclusive: NYU Students Barricade Doors, Occupy Kimmel
/ February 18, 2009


9:18 PM – I’m sitting on the 3rd floor of Kimmel watching as a ton of students roll in for Take Back NYU’s 2nd One fine day download.php?eid=52478112491″>Study Breakdown. Except it seems that there won’t be any dancing and somebody just asked me if I needed a number for legal counsel if I get thrown in jail. Looks like this might be a bit more than a dance party.

Can you say New School sit-in round 2?

I will be here all night live-blogging and posting photos and video of the happenings.

Got any tips/news for me? Send me an email at [email protected] Blog after the jump.

9:23 PM – Security guards took a walk through; there seemed to be no incident.img_0146

9:33 PM – I was wrong! Dance party started!

9:44 PM – A security guard told me he doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s “just keeping us safe.”

Lily Q also rolled through earlier and the guard at the desk as she swiped in was saying, “There’ve never been so many people here at this time – they ain’t going to no meeting.” There are non NYU-students here for support(?) that got signed in for some random “meeting.”

9:54 PM – Doors barricaded. “This is now an occupied space!” Photos forthcoming.


10:04 PM – This is for real. A Take Back NYU student leader just read the list of demands – I will post them shortly. TBNYU also sent me a statement, here are some key quotes:

At 10 pm Wednesday night, members of Take Back NYU! declared that parts of the Kimmel Center will be occupied indefinitely until NYU complies with a series of demands to make our school more democratic, accountable and socially just.

This year TBNYU! faced a wide range of unfounded criticisms about the nobility of their ends, but the failure of their means. These critiques tend to come from people who offer no means at all to create a better university, outside of their sniping commentary and self-aggrandizing pronouncements.

Unless they present real alternatives, these criticisms just add volume to the chorus of voices that call for inaction and delay in confronting the problems that threaten the quality of life we expect at our university.

Like it or not, Take Back NYU! is the only organization at our university willing to take on the big questions of accountability, democracy and human rights that will determine how NYU will deal with the key problems that shape the future of our university.

This is in response to our posts here and here.

10:13 – TBNYU has live streaming video here.

10:16 – Some demands I managed to scrawl down:

  • Full annual disclosure of budget
  • Full annual disclosure of endowment
  • Full union rights for all employees, including grad students
  • The creation of a socially responsible finance committee with the power to override the administration’s finance decision
  • This committee must be run by students and all members must sit on board of trustees
  • Annual scholarships for 13 Palestinian students
  • A donation of excess supplies to rebuild the University of Gaza
  • Tuition stabilization for all students
  • General public access to Bobst library
  • And, of course, full legal and disciplinary amnesty for all parties involved in the occupation

Full list on TBNYU’s site.

10:27 – It’s calmed down a bit, NYPD is outside, but Drew Phillips of TBNYU thinks NYU administrators don’t want to let in the cops for fear of looking stupid or incapable to handle the situation themselves.


10:40 PM – Meeting time. They are talking about how the night will play out. Looks like negotiations will be open, so I’ll be able to keep you posted on what’s happening between TBNYU and the administration. I’m also going to be interviewing some of the top student organizers shortly.

There are lots of reporters here too – NY Times, Village Voice, Democracy Now, maybe more. I’m the only one liveblogging, though.

img_0168img_0162img_0164Tons of cops outside!

11:06 – I just asked the press contact with TBNYU if anyone from WSN was here. She said, “I think a guy from WSN was here but he left when we started barricading stuff.” ‘Nuff said.

11:14 – I sat down with Maria Lewis, a TBNYU member and major organizer (although she wouldn’t admit to that since TBNYU is a non-hierarchical group), a moment ago to discuss why the group decided to make such a drastic move. She told me that they’ve been trying to “work with the administration for 2 years,” and their letter writing, press conference holding, and calm discussion failed. They can’t understand why there is “no transparency with our tuition dollars.” She told me that, since being nice didn’t work, “[they] decided to take it up a notch.”

Lewis continued, “We want to be democratic participants in this institution of learning…We decided to physically reclaim the space, to take back the space.” She also stressed that they were doing this in solidarity with the Palestinians in the Gaza strip.

She told me that the “expect to have all [their] demands met.” She thinks they are “completely reasonable” and “what [they] believe [they] deserve.”

11:30 – My video of the barricading just uploaded to YouTube. Here it is:

11:33 – Although I’ve told everyone I’ve spoken to tonight that I’m writing for NYU Local, an organizer with TBNYU just came over to me and told me it was “fucked up” that I didn’t shout to the hills that I was a member of the press. Apparently she heard that my coverage was putting their sit-in in a bad light.

Now she’s threatening not to let me listen to the negotiations. That’s definitely an effective way to get me on your side.

Looks like negotiations won’t be happening until tomorrow morning. I’m guessing no administrators were willing to come to the NYU occupation this late at night.

11:54 – I just ate a sugar packet. I have no food. The delicious food of Kimmel is locked behind iron gates. :(


12:03 – Somebody gave me a vegan chocolate chip cookie. It was great. I am happier.

12:09 – I just saw a WSN reporter ask an organizer, “So what’s happening in here?” LOL city.

12:14 – I missed this before, but one of the demands is to “[reassess] the recently lifted ban on Coca-Cola products.” COKE BAN WON’T DIE!

12:24 – NY Times just posted about the occupation.

Dance party restarted! Daft Punk, whaaaaaat?

12:30 – Oh, sorry, it’s not a dance party, it’s a calisthenics session. Some guy has his shirt off.

12:31 – Fearless prediction: The administration isn’t going to have any of this – they will only agree to one or two smaller demands (like student preference in Kimmel room rentals). What do y’all think?


12:43 – Big batch of photos coming shortly. It’s quieted down quite a bit (aside from the frenetic dance music and dudes mock fighting). I also have to pee. Hopefully I’ll be allowed out and back in.

1:12 AM – Easily went to the bathroom and back. I chuckled with the guard about the “barricade” – he said, “It’s not a barricade, we could tear that down anytime. Get something heavier.” LOL. Here’s some more pics:

img_0176img_0175img_0173img_0177img_0178Chattin’ at the live video feed that’s way more boring than this live blog.

1:26 – The dining area won’t be open for students to use tomorrow. And the kitchen MIGHT be open.

1:32 – Deep thought: Any student support for this occupation will die as the Coke Ban news gets out.

1:35 – Somebody posted some video from out in front of Kimmel. It’s from a couple of hours ago and it’s way too long, but you can check it out.

1:43 – A question from the live video being put on by TBNYU: “What is happening right now?” Answer: “Umm, in one word, occupying.” Umm. I have nothing to say.

1:46 – There are a lot of vegans here. Is that meaningful? Does that make their occupation more authentic?

1:49 – From the video feed: “We all know it won’t be a happy ending.” That’s what SHE said.

1:51 – Whoa, big news, apparently some administrator is leaving vacation early and flying back tomorrow. I’ll update with more as I hear it.

1:54 – I’m told by TBNYU folks that John Beckman, NYU’s Spokesman/PR guy, is the one leaving vacation. Someone’s got to do damage control.

2:00 – Somebody is making coffee. I am so hyped.

2:17 – Chillin’ hard. Waiting for some coffee. About to get another interview.


2:50 – I just sat down with Alex Lotorto (pictured) who came all the way from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, to help the TBNYU folks run the occupation. He is a member of Students for a Democratic Society and talked about what will and might happen tomorrow.

He tells me that the administration will be meeting at 8 AM to discuss the action they’ll be taking. Alex thinks the worst case scenario is a police raid. Best case? “Negotiations before their press conference at noon.” He expects something more moderate like a cutoff of bathroom privileges. (But they came ready! They brought kitty litter and buckets, no joke.)

He also noted that the cafeteria workers here at Kimmel are unionized and so they won’t cross picket lines. He expects they won’t enter the building tomorrow. (Which would mean no Kimmel tomorrow. Although I’m doubting they’ll even allow access to the third floor.)

At around 12 PM, there will be a press conference either on the third floor balcony or out in front of Kimmel. There will be an accompanying rally of support.

Alex is the guy behind the live video feed, some of which he hopes to use in his film about the event.

2:56 – @EJ H: Your obnoxious character attacks aside, if you find better, “real” journalism covering this event, be sure to let me know. Oh and here’s an unbiased fact: You’re an anonymous internet dumbass.

3:09 – A lot of people have been asking in the comments about why 13 is the number of Palestinian scholarships they decided on. So I asked the organizers. They said, “1300 Gazans were killed in the last conflict and only 13 Israelis were killed.” So it’s symbolic, not totally arbitrary.


3:23 – Nap time. The calm before the storm?

3:27 – The occupation hits the AP.

4:02 – The press conference/rally may be held earlier, around 10 AM, I’m hearing from Duncan. I don’t think these plans are very solidified. I’ll know more in a few hours.

5:13 – Only a hardcore handful remain awake. The lights can’t be turned off so it’s pretty difficult to drift off, even at this hour. I’m wishing I could sleep, but prowling addictinggames.com instead.

7:39 – Day 2 coverage is in a new post here. Leave comments there. This thread is closed.

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