The Incarceration to Education Coalition gathered in Washington Square Park on Sunday to reflect on their past work while decorating boxes and to discuss today’s meeting with NYU President Andrew Hamilton.
It has been an eventful year for the IEC as it has worked toward banning the box by staging a sit-in at the Welcome Center, holding a teach-in at Bobst Library and occupying the Kimmel Center for 33 hours. These initiatives are centered on the IEC’s efforts to remove questions concerning disciplinary action and criminal history from NYU’s Common Application.
Seven members of the IEC will meet with President Hamilton later today, as promised by Senior Vice President of Student Affairs Marc Wais at the conclusion of the Kimmel sit-in.
Pliskin said the IEC is not confident in NYU’s ability to maintain “transparency and open governance” given the administration’s refusal to allow the meeting to be public.
“I think that Andrew Hamilton probably doesn’t actually have a lot of decision making power around this issue, so a meeting with only him as a figurehead is probably not going to allude to much by way of the administration as a collective and the directions that they’re moving in,” Pliskin said.
Wagner graduate student Sheba Rivera said that while she is bothered by the administration’s unwillingness to make the IEC’s meeting with President Hamilton public, she is optimistic about broader initiatives to ban the box.
“I think that we’re going to see more and more action happen on the part of the city to start to break down the institutions that are an extension of the criminal punishment system,” Rivera said. “We’ve seen that the city has decided to ban the box on job applications and there’s a bill in the New York State Senate to ban the box on
IEC organizer and Gallatin junior Sumathy Kumar said she is impressed by the amount of support that IEC has garnered from the NYU community this semester.
“There’s a growing consensus in our community that this Box doesn’t make us safer and we want it off our application,” Kumar said. “We’ve been building for three years and this semester it just so happened that things came together.”
CAS alumna and IEC organizer Emma Pliskin said Sunday’s event helped to refocus the impact of the box on the school-to-prison pipeline.
“That’s a narrative that has often gotten lost in our communications about the box and in the administration’s framing of the box as a problem,” Pliskin said. “The box is a two part question: it’s the school disciplinary infractions and it’s the ‘have you ever been convicted of a crime.’ With this action, we’re really trying to continue to center that narrative and put forward the full scope of why the box is horrible.”
Rivera said the IEC will continue its efforts and demands next semester despite its limited representation at the meeting tomorrow.
“I think that the administration thinks that they are going to slow down the momentum by not allowing all of the voices that were present at the sit-in to actually speak to Andrew Hamilton,” Rivera said. “But we’re not going to be silenced; we’re going to keep the movement going any way that we can.”
A version of this story appeared in the Monday, April 25 print issue. Email Greta Chevance at [email protected]