Students at the New School have called for an academic strike starting April 6 in response to the university’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Participants in the strike are refusing to complete class work, register for classes or attend online lectures. In a recent press release, a collective of New School students called for the continuation of pay for cafeteria workers, the expungement of incomplete grades and partial tuition refunds to account for lost access to on-campus resources.
Two days after the student organizers sent a letter of demands to their school administration, the board of trustees reversed a decision to increase tuition by 3.84% for the 2020-2021 school year. University officials have also agreed to meet with the student organizers this upcoming Friday, according to emails obtained by WSN.
While this is a student-led movement, organizer Cearah Peck said The New School Student Strike 2020 has made a concerted effort to express solidarity with professors.
“Faculty are doing so much more than what they’re being paid to do, going above and beyond learning new methods of teaching, doing emotional labor for students,” Peck told WSN via text message. “We want to make sure that faculty and staff at The New School are protected just as much as the students.”
Unable to physically protest or organize, students in The New School Student Strike 2020 have taken to social media to raise awareness. There are more than 150 students in a Whatsapp group created to discuss organizing tactics, according to organizers.
Strikers have expanded their base by emailing other students using directories found in Canvas — an online digital learning platform used by The New School — and have over 250 followers on their Instagram page.
Despite the strike calling for supporters to boycott class registration for Fall 2020, 2,200 students signed up for classes on the first day of registration, April 6, The New School said in a statement to WSN.
The New School did not clarify how many students were slotted for registration.
Priscilla Gaona, another student organizer, said that this issue extends past the pandemic.
“This strike is to aid all students with what we deserve during the pandemic,” Gaona told WSN in a text message, “but the bigger picture is that it serves as the breaking point after fighting (especially low income students of color) for these same issues of tuition, healthcare, and equity amongst the student body for so long.”
Email Matthew Fischetti at [email protected]