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Sunday, February 22, 2009

New York University occupied by students!

On the night of the 18th of February students of the "take back NYU" group occupied the  Kimmel building in the university where the student's activities are held. The demands of the students are clear: We want a socially responsible democratic university!
More specifically, the demands are mainly the following: financial trasnparancy regarding the budget of the university as well as the sources of the fundings and endowments; NYU respects the principle of collective bargaining with all its stakeholders including students and workers; the formation of a student Socially Responsible Financial Committee; tuition stabilization; and granting 13 palestinian students full scholarships. The other claims fall into linking the university to its surroundings by opening the library to the public.
It is an extraordinary movement since the occupation is still going on, and more importantly because the students' demands are not limited to their concerns but also rach the employees, the community surrounding the university and Gaza. The students tried the peaceful channels of dialogue with the university administration, that is they sent a letter last year to the administration in order to voice their demands, however they recieved no answer, hence they chose to radicalize their action in order to be heard. 
The movement is gaining scale and echo, solidarity statements are flowing especially from unversities and labour unions, and activist intellectuals like Noam Chomsly. The occupiers have supported the UK university occupations in solidarity with Gaza. However, the NYU occupation has not yet triggered similar actions in other U.S. universities, nevertheless they are not isolated and they are getting a big support from students. This movement is not to be undermined because it represents legitimate and just demands that ought to be applied in every university elsewhere: transparancy, participative democracy, and social responsbility are prinicples that every university should endorse.
The NYU occupation and the UK occupations ought to give us a lesson: the protestation against the Israeli crimes in Gaza should not have ended when the assault ended in January. When all the demonstrations ended with the end of the aggressions, students in the UK and NYU didn't not end their movement. The Israeli crimes in Palestine are ongoing, why did the voice of protest shut up?
The take back NYU movement, the UK occupations, the greek youth uprisal, the protestation movments in Italy, Spain and France against the Bologna process ( EU decicion to reform the university making them financially autonomous and thus pave the way to privatization) show once again the student activism and militantism is not history. Take Back NYU is a striking evidence that the Amercan Left is not merely a moderate right, but a radical left in its demand and will not accept less than the democratization of university education, making it accessible to everyone.
Those movements ought to be generalized everywhere, the university is not a profit seeking instituiton, it is not a firm and knowledge is not a marchandise!
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