IEC Meets With Common App, Rallies Support in Washington Square Park

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Maria Torres

NYU students rally to “ban the box” underneath the Washington Square Park arch.

By Maria Torres, Contributing Writer

The Incarceration to Education Coalition held a meeting with NYU administration and Common Application representatives yesterday — a meeting they received after completing a 36-hour sit-in at the Kimmel Center this past weekend. In conjunction, the IEC also held a rally in Washington Square Park to support the “ban the box” initiative at NYU.

Students gathered under the Washington Square Arch an hour before the meeting, which started at 1:30 p.m. The event involved posters and banners demanding to “unbox NYU.” The students sang and spoke up for the cause. Supporters held hands in a big circle, while chanting for freedom and justice.

As the meeting was set to begin, members of the rally accompanied IEC representatives to the Kimmel Center to continue advocating for the cause.

Gallatin senior Shirley LaVarco said the plan to unbox NYU is important to her because her dad was incarcerated for nearly a decade.

“This meeting is somewhat different, and it’s setting precedents,” LaVarco said. “To my knowledge no one else has been able to meet with Common App representatives. To my knowledge no other student campaign has been able to get the university, let alone the Common App to agree to have a meeting recorded and live streamed, so that it’s a big stride in terms of getting to hold the institutions accountable.”

Despite the clear enthusiasm from the crowd, IEC representatives left the meeting room disappointed. Eric Sturm represented IEC during the meeting, and he said NYU and the Common App would not provide answers to why the box needed to be on the application.

“If they can’t answer that, it means that they don’t really have a reason, and that they need more time to develop a reason,” Sturm said.

Common App CEO Paul Mott announced his resignation Tuesday morning, and Sturm speculated that the IEC’s movement could have impacted his decision. However, there was no reasoning given as for why Mott resigned.

After the meeting, IEC members and supporters went into Washington Square Park to regroup. Gallatin junior and IEC member Alison Reba expressed her disappointment in the Common App’s lack of transparency.

“They were trying to be as vague as possible,” Reba said. “When continuously pressed for specifics, [they were] still as vague as possible.”

CAS junior and IEC member Alexa Greene said she was surprised that after having the box on the application for 10 years was not adequate preparation to answer IEC’s inquiries and concerns.

“The institutions knew we were going to have this meeting and they still were not prepared for any of our questions,” Greene said. “They kept saying they needed to do more research.”

Sturm said the IEC will talk about this issue in future events, and that it is NYU’s responsibility to take a stand for justice.

Email Maria Torres at [email protected]