Statement against police repression @ The New School and across the country (SENS UAW, and New Student Workers Union)

Original online here.

Statement against police repression @ The New School and across the country.

Today we saw Donna Shalala and the Board of Trustees launch a direct attack on this university: on its students, on its faculty, and most of all on the legacy of progressive anti-war values and non-violent resistance our community cherishes. The day before this attack, 95% of student workers voted Yes to endorse the demands of the encampment, and 80-90% of faculty across their various councils endorsed the call for divestment. The only group not following the democratic will of this university is the Board of Trustees, and their President Donna Shalala.

This is the largest arrest at the university in at least the last 50 years.

Donna Shalala not only breached our trust, but proceeded to lie to the whole New School community. In communications to the University, Shalala claimed that Kerrey Hall was completely blocked. This is untrue. All emergency exits were not only open, but both security and trained safety marshals were directing students to use them. Students passed in and out throughout the night of peaceful demonstration. Using only their bodies protestors blocked one entrance to Kerrey Hall, and did so with a very simple demand: that the Board of Trustees respect the democratic will of the university community. This fact was communicated through the bargaining team to both Shalala and Dean Shondrika Merritt repeatedly. Dean Merritt saw that the entrances were open.

Last night, students were promised explicitly that there would be a written warning before any arrests were made. There was no written warning. Students of colour, disabled students, and trans students in the Parsons encampment were assured that they were at a low risk of arrest, in accordance with the assurances of the administration. They were trapped inside of the Parsons building by police and arrested without any chance to leave. Students who were crossing the street outside were arrested.

This shocking display of police authoritarianism, that Donna Shalala gleefully co-signed, is an explicit attack on democratic university governance, academic freedom, and the basic rights of workers, students, and educators.

We not only call on President Shalala to resign effective immediately, but we also call on Linda Rappaport and the entire board of trustees to do the same. Linda Rappaport has led the board from disaster to repeated disaster. The board members have shown a disgustingly anti-labor orientation, during both the strike of Part Time Faculty in 2022 and the SENS strike earlier this year. They have repeatedly refused to recognize the basic democratic rights of student workers in NewSWU for over a year. They have dramatically endangered the future of the university and its accreditation, and lost the confidence of this community. The board must be held accountable. We repeat and endorse all four demands of the encampment. We particularly emphasise the necessity of amnesty and protection for students exercising their first amendment right to free speech, and engaging in non-violent resistance in accordance with the historical principles of the New School. We call, once again, for a stipulated election for the accretion of NewSWU workers who have been denied their basic rights.

This is not just an attack on us. This is consistent with the attacks on students and faculty, and abdication of responsibility at NYU (GSOC 2110, ACT UAW 7902), Columbia (SWC 2710), and CCNY (PSC-CUNY). We stand with our union siblings at these universities. We applaud our union siblings on the west coast at UCLA (UAW 4811) and USC (GSOC UAW 872) who are voting to authorise a strike over police repression as we speak. This week has seen so many unconscionable attacks on student workers, their unions, and their communities.

The ultimate responsibility for these attacks fall upon President Joe Biden. Joe Biden, in his public statements, has encouraged and applauded the police responses that we’ve seen on campus. If the UAW is serious about standing by their members, the UAW’s endorsement of Joe Biden can no longer stand.

In light of this, we as a joint body of student workers (SENS & NewSWU) are calling on our Local 7902, on Shawn Fain, and on our union siblings across the country to rescind the UAW’s endorsement of Biden. He is no longer a friend of labor, and the UAW must make a choice. We invite other locals and units to join us in this call. We call on the UAW international leadership to follow through on their commitment to form a divestment working group, and to divest immediately. For working people to be free, we must stand together against all forms of repression, against imperialism, and with our siblings in Gaza.

  • SENS UAW, and New Student Workers Union.


  1. NYU lUAW Local 7902
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