Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

VIDEO: NYU Students Occupy Cafeteria

Posted in activism, education, politics by allisonkilkenny on February 19, 2009

Democracy Now


Here in New York, several dozen student activists have barricaded themselves inside a cafeteria at New York University. The group Take Back NYU has submitted several demands, including the establishment of a socially responsible committee, a full disclosure of the school’s annual budget and support for Palestinian students in the Gaza Strip.

Student: “The first two orders of the socially responsible finance committee will be an in-depth investigation of all investments in war and genocide profiteers, as well as companies profiting from the occupation of Palestine.”

Video behind the cut of the 2-18-09 Take Back NYU occupation

12 Responses

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  1. wilsonrofishing said, on February 25, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Too bad it’s all over, Take Back NYU rocks!

    I love those guys! A team of the world’s best comedic screenwriters could not have scripted their pathetic last stand to play out any funnier. Corporate Water???? That’s the most patently bourgeois thing I’ve heard in a long time. Water is bad, Apple is good? Take Back NYU! is going to ruin the Apple brand altogether; Apple is marketed for slackers, NOT hippies.

    And why did Take Back! narrow their goals when they were doing so well and capturing the imagination of the worldwide public? Why did they not fight to achieve protection for the Cape Fear River shiner, one of the most endangered fishes in North America? Or fight to replace the hurtful “MILF” genre of adult film with the less judgemental “experienced women” title?

    If only they had not been so pragmatic, this really could have been a changed world. . .

  2. allisonkilkenny said, on February 25, 2009 at 12:20 am

    If you were parodying a stupid Conservative, this couldn’t be any funnier.

    Thanks! 😀

  3. wilsonrofishing said, on February 25, 2009 at 12:49 am

    Did you actually SEE the video of the cops and faculty coming in to Kimmel? Take Back NYU! committed the cardinal sin of appearing like laughingstock, then added insult to injury by posting their horrible performance online for the world to see! It is hard to inspire a movement when people are laughing at your YouTube video at the wrong time. At least Travis the chimp down in Stamford scared the cops; the Take Back NYU! clowns just made them laugh. Although they most likely generated a lot of overtime pay for them, and will probably contribute to rising tuition costs at NYU. . .

  4. allisonkilkenny said, on February 25, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Take Back NYU wanted:

    1, a socially responsible investment committee
    2. a union for graduate student teachers
    3. a tuition freeze, a full disclosure of the school’s annual budget
    4. support for Palestinian students in the Gaza Strip.

    But…yeah…they sound really crazy.


    Non-violent protest vs. crazy person posting nonsensical rants on the internet. You decide.

  5. wilsonrofishing said, on February 25, 2009 at 9:32 am


    I may disagree with many of your postings, but I never suggested what you write is a rant, ornonsensical. If you thought I did, I apologize. I may disagree with your point of view, but write well, and I am glad that people with different viewpoints cover the same topics from different angles.

    I also never said back Back NYU!were crazy, I was mocking their lack of effectiveness. Did you watch that video of the NYU administrators and cops hopping over the barricade that I posted? Did you hear the tripe that the cameraman/spokesman was spouting as the bored cops came into their area?
    Allison, no, actually,Take Back NYU!’s list was actually a bit longer:
    1. Full legal and disciplinary amnesty for all parties involved in the occupation.
    2. Full compensation for all employees whose jobs were disrupted during the course of the occupation.
    3. Public release of NYU’s annual operating budget, including a full list of university expenditures, salaries for all employees compensated on a semester or annual basis, funds allocated for staff wages, contracts to non-university organizations for university construction and services, financial aid data for each college, and money allocated to each college, department, and administrative unit of the university. Furthermore, this should include a full disclosure of the amount and sources of the university’s funding.
    4. Disclosure of NYU’s endowment holdings, investment strategy, projected endowment growth, and persons, corporations and firms involved in the investment of the university’s endowment funds. Additionally, we demand an endowment oversight body of students, faculty and staff who exercise shareholder proxy voting power for the university’s investments.
    5. That the NYU Administration agrees to resume negotiations with GSOC/UAW Local 2110 – the union for NYU graduate assistants, teaching assistants, and research assistants. That NYU publicly affirm its commitment to respect all its workers, including student employees, by recognizing their right to form unions and to bargain collectively. That NYU publicly affirm that it will recognize workers’ unions through majority card verification.
    6. That NYU signs a contract guaranteeing fair labor practices for all NYU employees at home and abroad. This contract will extend to subcontracted workers, including bus drivers, food service employees and anyone involved in the construction, operation and maintenance at any of NYU’s non-U.S. sites.
    7. The establishment of a student elected Socially Responsible Finance Committee. This Committee will have full power to vote on proxies, draft shareholder resolutions, screen all university investments, establish new programs that encourage social and environmental responsibility and override all financial decisions the committee deems socially irresponsible, including investment decisions. The committee will be composed of two subcommittees: one to assess the operating budget and one to assess the endowment holdings. Each committee will be composed of ten students democratically elected from the graduate and under-graduate student bodies. All committee decisions will be made a strict majority vote, and will be upheld by the university. All members of the Socially Responsible Finance Committee will sit on the board of trustees, and will have equal voting rights. All Socially Responsible Finance Committee and Trustee meetings shall be open to the public, and their minutes made accessible electronically through NYU’s website. Elections will be held the second Tuesday of every March beginning March 10th 2009, and meetings will be held biweekly beginning the week of March 30th 2009.
    8. That the first two orders of business of the Socially Responsible Finance committee will be:
    a) An in depth investigation of all investments in war and genocide profiteers, as well as companies profiting from the occupation of Palestinian territories.
    b) A reassessment of the recently lifted of the ban on Coca Cola products.
    9. That annual scholarships be provided for thirteen Palestinian students, starting with the 2009/2010 academic year. These scholarships will include funding for books, housing, meals and travel expenses.
    10. That the university donate all excess supplies and materials in an effort to rebuild the University of Gaza.
    11. Tuition stabilization for all students, beginning with the class of 2012. All students will pay their initial tuition rate throughout the course of their education at New York University. Tuition rates for each successive year will not exceed the rate of inflation, nor shall they exceed one percent. The university shall meet 100% of government-calculated student financial need.
    12. That student groups have priority when reserving space in the buildings owned or leased by New York University, including, and especially, the Kimmel Center.
    13. That the general public have access to Bobst Library.

    And how many of their demands were met as a result of their “interruption”? Absolutely none. That’s a decent gauge of their effectiveness, no?

    When I was in college (back in the dark ages!) organizations like greenpeace used to offer free seminars on how to organize and conduct civil disobedience activities; it sounded like the camera guy had attended one, but slept through all of it except for the sloganeering part! My guess is that the documentation of this protest will be used to train other groups how NOT to conduct civil disobedience.

    Many other people, of course, will just laugh at them.


  6. wilsonrofishing said, on February 25, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Soorry, that’s “you write well”, and “or nonsensical”; lousy blackberry keys!

  7. allisonkilkenny said, on February 25, 2009 at 9:43 am

    So you’re arguing that because they weren’t successful, they’re silly for having tried.

    I’m sorry, but that’s nihilistic, silly reasoning. You didn’t win, so why try?

    I’m glad generations of non-violent protesters don’t share your spirit. The brave fight for what they believe in, knowing they might lose, and less principled, non-idealistic people will laugh at them from afar on the internets.

  8. wilsonrofishing said, on February 25, 2009 at 10:25 am

    My argument is that Take Back NYU!was poorly organized. They slept through disobedience 101. Their lack of organization (and cohesion) is clearly documented for the world to see, thanks to cameraguy.

    I don’t think they are silly for having tried to reach their goals (through civil disobedience); in fact, I think that it was totally possible for them to have some of these goals met. They started out in a good position, with a great deal of support on and off campus.

    But their lack of organization and poor execution of their “interruption” was pathetic. People on sight were mocking them, and that final video is so hilarious that it’s devastating. That clip was the silly part.

    Come on, you did not laugh at the “corporate” water comment vs the “good” Apple products? Apple has good editing software pre-loaded on their computers, that segment never should have seen the light of day.

    You and I agree on one thing, however: if future generations of non-violent protesters follow closely in the steps of take back NYU!, there will be much less strife on campuses across the globe, and the world will definitely be a more peaceful place. Funnier, too.

  9. allisonkilkenny said, on February 25, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    If your beef is seriously that they’re not well-organized, then you should contact them with tidbits from your expertise (whatever that may be.)

    Take Back NYU wrote a comprehensive list of demands and engaged in non-violent protest, which is more action than most students take these take days.

    However, mocking them on a blog is pretty immature. If you want to help, contact them. If you want to giggle behind their backs, it’s pretty sad (and useless).

  10. wilsonrofishing said, on February 25, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Allison, I honestly think you are an excellent writer and I drop in every few days to see what you’ve got posted. Like I wrote earlier, I often disagree with your point of view, but you are frequently covering the same subjects I write about, so reading at your site keeps me from getting too comfy in the cocoon of my own blog.

    I try to keep the tone light over at Acre; it is just a hobby, after all. Sure I mocked Take Back!, but I notice that you employ sarcasm and humor at this site as well. If you cannot find something to laugh about when a bunch of overprivileged college students at a 40K a year private school trying to make the world better by taking over a cafeteria, and capture themselves decrying “corporate water” on tape, it is a sad world, indeed. The next time Take Back NYU! rears its head I will watch for your posts, Allison.

    Take Care.


  11. allisonkilkenny said, on February 25, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Thanks for the compliments, Bob.

    However, I didn’t take what you were writing as funny, or particularly insightful. Picking on a bunch of young people, who are some of the only youths I’ve seen organizing and demonstrating on campuses, smacks of condescension and bullying behavior.

    I’ve always considered humor a tool for critiquing those in power, not mocking activists from afar. In all seriousness, if you think you have helpful input, you should contact Take Back NYU. I’m sure they’re open to suggestions.


  12. allisonkilkenny said, on February 25, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    On a separate note: not everyone that attends NYU is a trust fund baby. There are many students (particularly those youths of color,) who attend NYU on scholarship, and work two jobs to pay their tuition. I know them. I’ve met them. They’re incredible people, and they’re not coasting through life.

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