New School, New Rules!

Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up” plays as an agitated crowd dissipates from in front of the main administration building of Parson’s The New School. The protest is over and the demands of the United Auto Workers are clear.
1. Rehire the 12 fine arts department faculty that were recently dismissed from the college by email.
2.Drop all charges against the students who had been arrested at the school’s last protest, which was held on April 10th

Students arrested at the New School on 5th. Ave. and East 14th. St. in Manhattan

Students arrested at the New School on 5th. Ave. and East 14th. St. in Manhattan

3. Establish a more transparent system of communication between the school’s faculty and its administration.

“There is a crisis at the school,” stated Greg Tewksbury,a part-time professor at the the college, referring to the uproar that has recently occurred with the school’s president Bob Kerrey which initiated in December when Kerrey received a vote of no confidence by his full time faculty.

“Being president wasn’t enough.He also wanted to be provost.” As president of the school Kerrey is being held responsible for the recent dismissals and lack of communication at the school. He’s been criticized for the way he handled the protest that occurred on April 10th in which 22 students were arrested after occupying a building on the campus under the command that Kerrey be fired.

After the many claims that police had used excessive force against protestors, Kerrey, an also ex senator was quoted as calling the students “terrorists”.

Students defend themselves after Kerrey's remark.

Students defend themselves after Kerrey's remark.

Many of the faculty members that were either fired, moved to another department or had their hours severely cut are tenured professors. According to an article in News From the UAW, the union for part time faculty at The New School and NYU, the dismissals are being masked “behind a smoke screen of ‘curricular change’ and other management priorites…” In a plan that Kerrey calls “Restructuring” the dismissals of these part time faculty memebers are necessary to accommodate the changes that have been made in the curriculum.

Aside from Kerrey the new chair of the Fine Arts department Coco Fusco is being seen as the initiator of this curriculum change. Fusco taught at Columbia University until last July when she moved to The New School. ArtNet News says the changes to “modernize the department” were made under Fusco. Incidentally Columbia University has also voiced it’s opinion against the actions of The New School. According to an email cited by the New York Times at Columbia the faculty called the actions “anti-artist, anti-arts education and frankly anti-culture.” Although New School representatives have told Art Net News that the dismissal emails “don’t preclude affected faculty from teaching in the future ‘as needed’ “ the affected faculty are still worried that they will be unemployed during this time of economic crisis.

While it is unclear whether or not another protest will take place, we are once again reminded that the people that are being thrown under the bus here are indeed artists. The website www. is a blog responding to an exhibition that Mr. Hegarty, a part-time professor at the college, was considering putting together. As a tongue in cheek response the exhibition would display work done by the fine arts department faculty allowing viewers to decide who should be fired.

Few pictures of the protest of the Fine Arts Department.


~ by nyadventurer on May 4, 2009.

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