Exclusive: NYU Students Barricade Doors, Occupy Kimmel


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 charlie@wnyu.org. 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.


    Share Your Thoughts


  1. MZ says

    your demands are a little over the top…students get scholarships based on performance and need. why are you singleing out Palestinian students and the Gaza. The result of what you are doing now is what starts wars……..when will you kids learn!!!!!! Go do something positive to change things LOVE, YOUR PARENTS

  2. burt yung says

    to all the jewish posters attacking the gaza scholarships…….i understand it makes you mad that they couldnt all be massacred, but here in america we vstand with the palestinians………..only yeshiva university advocates the palestinian holocaust

  3. middle-class student LOL's at this says

    half of you protesters aren’t even NYU students, what the fuck.

    I agree with budget disclosure but everything else makes you look like a bunch of whiny rich white kids who want to be the next goddamned revolutionaries.

    how about you start with some sensibility in your list of demands first? everyone on my floor in 3rd north is laughing our fucking asses off at what you guys want from this “demonstration.”

    I appreciate that you think you’re making NYU a better place but seriously guys, take it a notch down! then maybe more people will take you seriously.

  4. Mitchel Cohen says

    The students sitting-in at NYU are absolutely right, across the board. Some may argue that politicized demands may seem to be distractions from other demands, but that is not borne out historically, in my experience. As the poet Ernesto Cardenale put it, “Nothing ever comes to the sleeper but a dream.”

    The demands at NYU are very important, in terms of making the horror that continues to occur in Gaza visible in the media. VERY important. Let’s not forget that Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign “aid”, and the occupation of Gaza and the attacks on the rest of Palestine would not be possible without the tax dollars of most of those commenting above.

    As a Jewish person, I deplore what Israel is doing in my name and with our tax dollars. And as a Green, I applaud the occupation by NYU.

    On behalf of the Brooklyn Greens and the NY State Green Party, we applaud the actions of the students and stand with you. Stay strong, and don’t let a few detractors writing comments here sap your spirits!

    Mitchel Cohen
    for the Brooklyn Greens / Green Party of NY

  5. Elizabeth Levine says

    Annual Scholarships for 13 Palestinian students? I’m an alum, and absolutely applaud what you’re doing, but for the success of your effort, stay focused and ON MESSAGE. Ally yourself with those struggling in this city and focus on what *everyone* will sympathize with you about: the incredibly exorbitant tuition/other fees that NYU unthinkingly thrusts on its students, whom it tends to treat no better than cattle, as well as their complete lack of initiative to integrate themselves in the community. Stay on POINT: with the economic life of the whole country wheezing and gasping, the real issues relate to economics– the affordability of a college education, housing, etc.. Leave the deserving students of Gaza aside for now….watering down your message won’t get you anywhere fast….

  6. MAK says

    I’m a student from Uchicago and we support your efforts. Uchicago tuition is at $50,000 AS WELL. Where does this money go if only we had more transparency . I don’t support barricading, but honestly with tuition this high and a lack of respect for university facilities by both students and employees I cannot help but feel we have been driven to this point. The amount of assets we have in reserve should be enough to offer FULL TUITION for the few thousand of students who make it to these schools. Case in point our dining halls. Case in point students and employees both steal and eat food before paying for it at our dining halls. A simple calculation puts a meal at these mess halls at $50 in your mealplan. How is that fair? All student organizations do for money is ask, and on a whim get our tuition money to spend without any review whatsoever.

    NYU congratulations. Hopefully colleges across the nation follows until we set up a fair system for students. Half of us can’t even eat right and working a $10 job doesn’t even help us get by.

  7. MAK says

    You guys also have to bullet your most important points. The number of Palestinian scholarships= the number of Israelis killed in the conflict is an and impartial point.

    I also support Ms. Levine’s point

  8. kapish Goyal says


    Make NYU affordable.Its this university monopoly to make it so expensive and out of an average student reach.There should be check on their plans for increasing tution every year with reasonble and justified reasons……….Resist………

  9. Mike says

    If your going to go after a private institution that you believe has wronged a lot of people, you do it with a class action lawsuit. Perhaps these genius kids could have consulted the law school before making complete asses out of themselves and their parents.

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