Divest and SLAM Relocate to Kimmel, Escalate Occupation
March 28, 2018
After three days of occupying the Bonomi Family Admissions Center, NYU Divest and the Student Labor Action Movement have relocated their occupation to the staircase of the Kimmel Center for University Life around 2:30 p.m. in the hopes of catching the attention of a larger percentage of the student body.
Divest and SLAM used the transition between buildings as an opportunity for a rally, advocating for their goals of greater administrative transparency, student representation on the Board of Trustees and university divestment from fossil fuels.
— Alex Domb (@dombalex) March 28, 2018
Approximately 30 demonstrators continued to chant passionately throughout the school day as they occupied the front steps of Kimmel, one of the most consistently populated locations on campus.
Divest and SLAM have relocated to Kimmel stairs, arguably the place with the most foot traffic on campus. pic.twitter.com/7v9UoCf491
— Alex Domb (@dombalex) March 28, 2018
On Monday, SLAM and Divest published a joint public letter addressed to trustees and administrators outlining their demands. The groups spoke to NYU Vice President of Public Affairs Lynne Brown, who said that she had relayed the letter to trustees and would attempt to secure a response within a matter of weeks.
However, demonstrators have not yet heard back from administrators or trustees and remain frustrated with the lack of communication. Due to a lack of response, SLAM and Divest have added a new demand to their list — an open town hall meeting with trustees by the end of the semester, preferably on May 1.
“This is day three of the occupation and we have not gotten any tangible meaningful response, and so we are prepared to escalate in order to fight for this new demand,” Gallatin sophomore and SLAM member Mia Wong said. “The reason that we have to do all of this, and occupy and sacrifice our time and efforts, is because these channels [of communication] don’t really exist.”
While the groups have now moved out of Bonomi for good, demonstrators enjoyed their three days interacting with prospective students and their families.
“We’ve spent three wonderful days here, in which I’ve spent so much time speaking to families and students, and they all seem to be so engaging and totally supportive of our demands,” CAS junior and SLAM member Sebastian Alarcon said. “People are really interested in what’s going on in the prospective school that they go to, and that’s great.”
However, Alderon and his fellow activists felt the need to relocate somewhere more densely populated with current students.
“It’s time to go to a place where we can interact more with the student body itself and potentially garner support from people who can immediately join our occupation,” Alarcon said.
This protest follows the largely unsuccessful Elmer Holmes Bobst Library administrative elevator occupation in December, which ended promptly due to the threats of disciplinary action, including the possibility of summary suspension, for protesters.
Graduate School of Arts and Science student and Divest member Lola Jusidman is optimistic about the current movement and feels that protesters have more reach than in previous occupations.
“This is a time when there is a lot of support in student government and in the University Senate for these demands, and our representatives are also tired of seeing the Board ignore its recommendations,” Jusidman said. “There’s definitely more momentum for this occupation than there was for the last one.”
SLAM and Divest members say that they are intending to occupy the Kimmel stairs past closing time — 12:00 a.m. — and throughout the night. What demonstrators intend to do if Public Safety or university administrators attempt to evacuate them at midnight remains to be seen.
As of 6:30 p.m., the groups have not heard back from administration. They will continue to occupy the staircase until the Board of Trustees agrees to host a public town hall meeting with students.
University spokesperson John Beckman did not respond to a request for comment.
This article may be updated with developments.
Email Alex Domb at [email protected]