As prospective students from the NYU class of 2021 flooded campus today for Weekend on the Square, activist groups, including, NYU Divest, Student Labor Action Movement and the Incarceration to Education Coalition, occupied several popular tour sites to voice their concerns with various university practices.
Members of SLAM took to the lobby of Weinstein Residence Hall to protest the lack of student representation on the board of trustees. SLAM members held banners and chanted “Trump’s advisors, our trustees, where are our priorities?” as tour groups entered Weinstein.
NYU SLAM in Weinstein @nyunews pic.twitter.com/GzAWRmYiSd
— Natasha Roy (@natasharoyy) April 22, 2017
SLAM also handed out small slips of paper with pictures of different board members — such as John Paulson and Martin Lipton — on the front, calling the slips “campus cash.” The back of each piece of campus cash highlighted reasons that SLAM was against the board member’s beliefs about the university.
“Board member, Martin Lipton, defends the outrageous compensation of NYU’s higher-ups by saying, ‘It is necessary and good for the institutions, just as it is good for corporate giants, which means he wants NYU to function as a corporation and not a university,” a piece of campus cash highlighting Lipton said.
Members of NYU Divest stood both outside the Welcome Center and in Gould Plaza, where a large tent was set up for prospective students to explore different programs the university has to offer, advocating against the university’s fossil fuel investments as well. They held a banner that read “NYU stop investing in violence. Stop investing in fossil fuels.”
Outside the Kimmel Center for University Life, the Incarceration to Education Coalition was joined by SLAM, where the groups blocked off most of the entrance to the building with banners reading “Hey Andy, we’re still here. Listen to us. #AbolishTheBox. Love, IEC” and “”If these doors are closed for some…then they will be closed for all.”
CAS senior and IEC member Alexa Greene said that the group was protesting the fact that NYU’s application still includes a box that requires people to disclose their criminal background.
“We believe this is inherently racist and discriminatory because our mass incarceration system is not set up in a way that accurately evaluates whether or not people are dangerous,” Greene said. “And in fact, a lot of the crimes that NYU is worried about being committed are committed by people without a criminal background, so it’s not a fair way of assessing people.”
Greene also said that in general, IEC wants NYU to be a more welcoming community for those who were formerly incarcerated by divesting from private prisons — as the university has investments in companies that utilize labor from private prisons — and by creating scholarships for people who were formerly incarcerated to help make them feel as though they will not be in a world that constantly discriminates against them.
Greene said that several activist groups chose to disrupt Weekend on the Square because they knew it would be an important weekend for the university. She believes that NYU cares about its reputation more than anything else and that many of the groups chose to protest today to be powerful by gathering as many people as possible to collaborate on their goals.
“It educates prospective students on stuff that goes on behind the scenes with NYU,” Greene said. “Also, we talk with NYU civilly all the time, but they constantly try to avoid us and not talk with us, so this is kind of our way of letting them know we’re not going anywhere and that we will continue to disrupt until they comply and compromise a little bit more.”
Email Natasha Roy at [email protected]