More than 20 Incarceration to Education Coalition organizers and supporters have occupied the Kimmel Center for Student Life since Friday afternoon and are in the process of negotiating with NYU to disband their sit-in if their demands are met.
IEC has pledged to remain in the staircase area of Kimmel until NYU takes concrete action to abolish the box, which they say targets individuals from marginalized communities. NYU has previously responded by sending a letter to the Common App encouraging further research on the box’s effects.
However, IEC has remained unsatisfied and is demanding that NYU become completely box blind — and disregard information that comes with Common App’s asking applicants if they’ve been convicted of a crime or faced disciplinary action in school. NYU currently has a two tiered system that involves committees to discuss an applicant’s disciplinary record in the latter stages of the application process.
IEC organizers said Marc Wais, senior vice president of student affairs, told the IEC it would be guaranteed a meeting with NYU administrators and the Common App next Tuesday, March 29, if students vacate Kimmel by 4 p.m. In addition, the organizers have said Wais threatened to pursue disciplinary action on the remaining occupants if they do not comply with this deadline.
Gallatin junior and IEC Organizer Sumathy Kumar said she found it very coincidental how the administration’s deadline of 4 p.m. was the same as IEC’s planned 4 p.m. teach in event, and that IEC organizers want their overnight stay (among other things) to be worth their while.
“We need an explanation for why they refused our demands,” Kumar said “We haven’t gotten one of those. We’ve been here 24 hours now and I think it’s time for Andrew Hamilton to come down to talk to us.”
Kumar added that those who stayed in Kimmel overnight risked disciplinary action and possibly arrest, but also showed a great power in protesting to abolish the box.
“I think that if you look at the power that was shown last night right around midnight that was some serious power that we had,” Kumar said. “We stayed overnight. Did we really stay overnight for just a meeting with the Common App, which wasn’t in any of our demands? I think that we can’t take just that meeting the way they’ve given it to us, that’s not what we just risked disciplinary action for.”
CAS freshman Mallika Lakshman spent the entire night at the Kimmel Center, sleeping on the grand staircase until NYU public safety officers woke the protestors up as the building was opening to the public. Lakshman said NYU security personnel have been very accommodating and respectful of the IEC’s cause, however, Lakshman feels having the organizers roped off has weakened their impact on the student body.
“We have a strong presence here, and the support this movement has had from the NYU community since this occupation started has been tremendous,” Lakshman said. “But we must continue educating our peers on this cause and withdrawing from this central location on campus will only make us appear vulnerable.”
Despite push-back from administration, the IEC has gone ahead with their teach-in, starting shortly after 3:40 pm. Members of the Student Labor Action Movement as well as the IEC spoke to a crowd of students in an attempt to educate their peers on how banning the box can have a positive effect on the NYU student body at large.
At the time of publication, the administration had not reiterated their demand to disperse the sit-in by 4 pm. Check back here for live updates and make sure to follow us on Twitter.
Email Anne Cruz and Lexi Faunce at [email protected].