#occupy something
Bwoglines: Humanity Today Edition

Sign of the times

We protest, tenaciously. (NYT)

We plan for the future, bureaucratically. (Scribd)

We lose connections, digitially. (Atlantic)

We see ourselves in animals, irrationally. (NY Mag)

We ink ourselves, unwisely. (Slate)

 

Sick Tat, Bro via Flickr

Occupiers Encamp at Tuck-It-Away

Starting Thursday, “members of the Coalition to Preserve Community, St. Mary’s Congregations for Justice and Peace, Harlem community members, and students of Columbia University” met up to #occupy Tuck-It-Away Storage. Tuck-It-Away, located at 655 W. 125th St., was the last legal battleground of our Manhattanville expansion. Of the many demands that the coalition fights for, one says it all: that “Residents under threat of forced displacement by the University be permitted to stay in their homes and communities” (emphasis theirs).

They’re still set up today, so Bwog, wiping its bleary eyes, trekked north.

It’s a scene. Ten or so occupiers stand around, talking to one another and sharing fliers with passersby. There are no drum circles, no mic checks, and no chanting. Amidst the encampment, bright-eyed undergrads mix with disillusioned senior residents and middle-aged attendees over snackfoods. The average age rests somewhere north of #OWS.

There is one cop hanging out at the fringe who says that he’d been there for a few hours without seeing any sort of disturbance. He describes the occupiers as decent people. This is most likely a product of him having just worked at Occupy Wall Street, where it was a lot harder to keep everyone controlled. He also mentions that the encampment at Tuck-It-Away is the only NYC occupation of its kind uptown.

Occupier Elliott Grieco, CC ’12, has slept at Tuck-It-Away for two nights now. “Last night we had 16 staying over, the night before, 25,” he says. It makes sense, he says, to camp out in front of Tuck-It-Away since the University is seizing the property via eminent domain. Another, old, occupier asked Elliott if he know “Chibby,” the guy he was texting to sounds the muster at Tuck-It-Away. Chibby is apparently important at “Occupy Downtown,” and the older guy sort of sneered when Elliott explained that he wasn’t really down there all that often.

Bwog spoke to another occupier, a resident and 1966 graduate of Columbia College. This alumnus bemoaned the loss of diversity he perceived in Morningside, which he attributes to Columbia’s expansion. In his words, Morningside has undergone “ethnic cleansing and economic homogenization” since then, processes that he does not wish to see repeated farther north. A black, middle-aged, female, resident talking with us had only to say, “It’s apartheid, that’s all it is.”

Lecturehop: Take Me Down to the Paradise City
thumbs up for rock n roll

Lecture was just like this

Bwog sent over our resident Building Buff Briana Last to report on last night’s talk, “Public Space and Public Consciousness” at the Event Oval in the Diana Center at 6 pm. The lecture was given by Michael Kimmelman as part of the Barnard Department of Education’s “For the Public Good” series. This series is part of a response to Karla FC Holloway’s new book, Private Bodies, Public Texts: Race, Gender, and a Cultural Bioethics. The work examines instances where “medical issues and information that would usually be seen as intimate, private matters are forced into the public sphere.”

Michael Kimmelman is no schmo. As the New York Times‘ architecture critic, an Ivy-League graduate,  and an itinerant concerto pianist, he couldn’t help but share his knowledge of the arts with precision and eloquence to an eager audience last night. His talk, infused with theoretical concerns about the human need for public space and what that need means was a beautiful addition to the ongoing Salon series at Barnard probing the question of what private matters should be addressed in the public sphere.

Kimmelman did not fall short of this task. He provided an interesting look into why public spaces are important and how cities, particularly ones as densely-populated as New York can attempt to understand how to maximize their space. He began by reminding an audience that despite the advent of the digital age, “Our human instinct is to come together” and after seeing the response to 9/11, to Occupy Wall Street, and the events at Tahir Square, it is not the internet, but cities, “that prove to ourselves that we are together and that there is solidarity among us.” He continued later, “No matter how new media express collective mourning in protest, nothing can replace people going to the streets. Historical upheaval is often linked to place. This is because places haunt our imaginations, they stick with us.”

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Occupy CU Picnic on Low Plaza

If you were wondering what the commotion is on Low Plaza right now, it’s the Occupy CU Student Worker Picnic.  Today is the National Day of Action for Education and workers, students, professors, and community members are encouraged to voice concerns over the state of education.  Free pizza, bagels, and potluck are advertised for protestors.  At 1 pm the group will be heading to Brooklyn to join other student protestors.  Tipsters report drum banging and bell jingling.

"Education is a Right not a Privilege"

Bwoglines: Learning A Lesson Edition
where dreams come true

Which seat can I take?

The Grammys were last night!  Adele learned you can take an awful break-up and parlay it into 6 awards, viewers learned who Bonny Bear Bon Iver is, and Nicki Minaj pissed off Italian grandmothers everywhere. (Reuters, Fox News)

Though our Occupy class never came to fruition, students at other universities are getting schooled in the Occupy movement. (USA Today)

Students learning numbers have even more job opportunities—humanities majors are learning how to more convincingly give an outward shrug while having an internal panic attack. (NY Times)

Brown learned from Harvard that when your city’s in trouble, you’ve gotta be a friend and help it out. (Bloomberg)

On a more serious note, Greece is learning that avoiding a default is a tough battle.  The passing of heavy austerity measures by the Greek Parliament led to violent riots in Athens and other cities. (CNN)

Institute of higher learning via Wikimedia Commons

SAC Holds a Meeting, People Notice

Update, 6:01 pm: Occupy Columbia did not officially protest the meeting. According to Frouman,”There were some people on the steps affiliated with Occupy but it was coincidence as I understand it.” Certain members of Occupy did, however, send the attendees of the meeting an e-mail based on a misunderstanding of what the meeting was about, the content of which is found after the jump.

Yesterday, Occupy Columbia got wind of the fact that the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) was having a closed meeting about what the university would do with the space vacated by the move to Manhattanville. Outraged by the lack of transparency, they stormed over to Low and sat outside the meeting to take a stand for the rights of students to have a voice in the process.

It turns out the meeting wasn’t technically closed. Bwog sat down to speak with Alex Frouman, Eduardo Santana, and Jose Robledo of SAC to figure out what all the hubbub was about. It turns out there may have been a miscommunication about what was being discussed at the meeting and who was invited. According to Jose Robledo, the GS representative in the SAC, “All of our SAC meetings and student council meetings are open.” The head of SAC, Frouman, who called the meeting, further clarified that the discussion over whether or not it should have been publicized wasn’t discussed because of the administrative nature of the meeting. Whether or not SAC should use Google Docs or Survey Monkey and whether the survey should come out on a Saturday or a Sunday, for example didn’t seem to merit a more explicit meeting announcement, especially because they would come out with the press release later that night. The irony, Frouman claimed, was that the whole meeting was regarding how to get students involved by thinking about methods of outreach.

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Anthro “Occupy the Field” Class May Be History

“Occupy the Field,” that Anthro class slated for next spring meant to examine OWS from within both seminar rooms and GAs, is M.I.A.—from the bulletin, that is.

The class, which was posted on the Department of Anthropology’s website as of December 31st, is now nowhere to be found. Neither an SSOL search nor a foray into the Directory of Classes bear fruit, either. Following the announcement of the class last week, news sources around the globe reported the story. But according to Anthro chair Elizabeth Povinelli, the class posting wasn’t removed due to “mystery or political untowards.”

Rather, Povinelli says, it was “proposed at the last minute” and did not undergo the requisite Committee on Instruction overview and new instructor approval for postdoc fellows. Povinelli said it was “an inadvertent mistake” that the class was posted last week. We’ve received no response as to whether the class will now undergo the overview.

Below are screenshots of the Anthropology website from earlier this week and yesterday.

Update, 12:11 am: More vague lingo, this from Brian Connolly, Associate VP for Public Affairs for the Office of Communication and Public Affairs (huzzah redundant administrative titles!). Connelly stresses that “the study of contemporary political, economic and social issues is entirely appropriate and has a long history here.” So the class isn’t being pulled due to controversy. Rather, “the proposal for a new anthropology course involving fieldwork on this topic had yet to be considered for approval by the faculty Committee on Instruction.” According to Connelly, “News reports and some departmental postings regarding the spring semester were premature.” Nevermind that the “departmental postings” sparked the news reports.

An Exciting New Intellectual Opportunity

A few days ago the History Department emailed about a new class, “Occupy the Field.” That’s “a field-based course about Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Movement more broadly,” which, you will recall, began last semester. The Anthropology Department is responsible.

Apparently, the class will be split between seminar and field work at OWS. Accordingly, the reading is admittedly “lighter than many other classes.” Score! Attendance is also a big part of the grade.

For their field work, students can “get involved in one of the many working groups that run day to day operations in the Occupy Movement.” Doubters of the movement need not worry, however—Occupy the Field is nonetheless “about rigorous and creative intellectual inquiry, not movement-building.” Pinkie-promise.

Our favorite instructor quote from the syllabus (though in that respect, our cup runneth over):

As a regular participant in the Occupy movement, however, I can say with absolute certainty that there is no foreseeable risk in teaching this as a field-based class. On the contrary, the risks of disengaged scholarship seem more profound.

Here’s the syllabus. If anybody ends up taking this, please, for the love of God, send us overheards. Full email after the jump.

Bwoglines: Putting the Pieces Together Edition

After finals are over you will go back to doing this

Far from over, the Occupy-everything movement continues to live up to its grammatical mission. Occupy Harlem has some students worried about the Manhattanville expansion. Meanwhile an Occupy China may be around the corner. Finally there’s “Mockupy” Wall Street. (Spec/Atlantic/City Room)

A recent DOT report confirms every pedestrian’s worst fear: bicyclists are taking over the city. Now you can finally use the traffic excuse for your class three blocks away. (Gothamist)

The George Washington bridge is in need of a multimillion dollar hip replacement. Just hope you never get stuck on the other side. (NY Times)

Investigators have officially linked the deaths of the two victims at yesterday’s Virginia Tech shooting. While the motive and identity of the shooter remain unknown, police have not ruled out a connection to a nearby armed robbery. (Huff Po)

Flanneled fathoming via Wikimedia

Bwoglines: War and Peace Edition

So that's why it's called NINJA...

The LAPD raided OccupyLA yesterday, arresting 200 and dispersing protesters without much conflict or violence. (WSJ)

Dershowitz believes the key to peace in Israel is Palestinian Chicken — he recommends Prime Minister Netanyahu watch the hilarious Curb Your Enthusiasm episode with Palestinian President Abbas in an interview with the Current. (Tablet, Current)

Columbia researchers believes America is vulnerable to crippling cyber-attacks and exploding printersHP disagrees. (MSNBC, LA Times)

Transit officials believe haikus are the key to preventing road rage and violent collisions in New York’s most dangerous intersections. (MSNBC)

Unassuming instrument of war via Wikimedia Commons

Occupy CU Responds to Barnard’s Lockdown

The Occupiers are getting feisty. Last night an email was sent out from their alias (which shows up as “Lee Bollinger”) to the offices of Dean Hinkson, President Spar, President Bollinger, and various contacts from Jezebel, Gawker, Gothamist, and the New York Times, demanding an explanation from the administration for the increased police presence during last week’s General Assembly. Occupy CU’s attempt to organize a meeting at Barnard was thwarted by dispersal from Public Safety, while the NYPD kept a close eye on the entrances to campus:

We demand that Barnard administrators promptly and directly respond to their serious acts of repression with an explanation. We will accept a response in writing or in person at our next Barnard General Assembly, Wednesday, November 30th, 12:00pm at our originally intended location, outside Barnard Hall. We hope that this statement and administrators’ subsequent response can begin a productive dialogue and framework under which we can discuss and express our concerns freely and be heard, not repressed.Our movement here on campus, in our community, and in our city is growing. The issues we face in this University are not independent from those of the movement at large. This is the time for meaningful change, and Occupy Columbia University welcomes all who wish to participate. An injury to one is an injury to all.

While Occupy Columbia have been making a lot of noise, it’s not clear that their numbers are growing significantly. There were only around 30 45 people at the Barnard GA, despite the overreactive security measures. Spec published an interesting piece last week on divided perspectives among students on OWS, which explores why some people care more than others. Whether the executive offices that OCU is targeting will care remains to be seen. We’ve contacted some members of the administration for comment. You can read the full email below.

Read on for full email

Barnard On Lockdown

Barnard’s campus has been fortified! Fearing unrest related to the Barnard General Assembly planned for this evening by Occupy Columbia, extraordinary security measures are currently being enforced. Barnard Hall has been closed, there is an NYPD car and police barricades in front of the 117th street gate, and Public Safety officers are checking IDs at the gate to make sure the only people allowed into Barnard’s campus are those with Barnard (or Columbia) IDs. There’s also a tent a few feet away from the gates where Barnard students can sign in guests, as they would into their dorms. But if you don’t have a Barnard ID and you’re not signed in by a Barnard student, you’re not allowed in. Even Barnard students walking around on their own campus attract suspicion. One Bwogger reports that while idly standing under the Sulzberger awning, a Public Safety officer approached her, demanding to know what she was doing.

The Occupiers are going ahead with their meeting, and are currently holding a General Assembly in the basement of the Diana. According to organizers, they initially planned to hold a protest General Assembly in front of Barnard Hall, but Public Safety informed them that demonstrations are not allowed in front of the building. They moved to the Diana, where Public Safety officers checked their IDs once again. Public Safety officers and Barnard administrators are lingering just outside the meeting space, where protesters are reportedly discussing Barnard’s elimination of part-time enrollment, Barnard’s mandatory meal plans, tenure and benefits for adjunct faculty, and police harassment.

And They’re Off!

Occupy CU has just departed from campus to march downtown and join the student strike. The pack of students has been joined by striking employees from Verizon and students from CSUNY Albany. According to one of the organizers:

“We have the sidewalk outside gates, NYPD is here. CWA marchers have joined us in a large group! Group is getting in the subway now”

While still on-campus, the group was approached by Robert Taylor, Executive Director of Student Development and Activities, who in essence told them that they needed to become a coalition if they wanted to be able to book space (for purposes of “occupation”). Occupy CU is opposed to this, as a coalition mandates official leadership.

Student Week of Action, Day Two: Dead Economists, Education, and You

This week is OccupyCU’s Student Week of Action. Read on for Bwog resident #Occupier Jed Bush’s report on Day Two’s Open Student/Professor Dialogue on Low Steps, the latest in our ongoing coverage of this week’s events.

Today’s discussion featured a star-studded lineup of professors that included, among others, Todd Gitlin, Christia Mercer, Paige West, and Rebecca Jordan Young, and there was an equally strong student turnout of around sixty or seventy students.  The discussion touched on a variety of different topics, from the Occupy movement itself to biased biological preconceptions. Though the discussion gradually dissolved into a soapbox for disgruntled students to air random grievances, the crowd remained engaged and enthusiastic, applauding and cheering on the various speakers for the entirety of the demonstration.

One of the first speakers was Todd Gitlin, Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Journalism School’s Ph.D program in Communications. Gitlin gave a lengthy, politically charged speech that took shots at just about everyone. Some targets in his crosshairs included the B-School and their self-interested leadership, the #Occupy movement, and even the audience, for their short-sightedness and naiveté. Still, he left his most scathing attacks for the corrupt institutions on Wall Street, the target of the documentary Inside Job, directed by his friend Charles Ferguson. He took inspiration from a paraphrased Keynes quote—“Men who believe themselves to be intellectually free are usually the slaves of some dead economist,” before interjecting, “And these days, some of those economists aren’t even dead!”

Bwog spoke with Gitlin after his speech and, while he told us he supported the #Occupy movements and believed having an open dialogue between professors and students was “a magnificent achievement,” he was adamant that much work remained. “These institutions will not be easily reversed, they’ve been in place for the past thirty, forty years, and to overturn them, that’s going to require serious commitments. If this movement is going to succeed, then they need to think of themselves as a movement, not just a season. People need to consider to what lengths they’re willing to go—and urge everyone else not to go home.”
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Student Week of Action, Day One: “What’s Disgusting? Union Busting!”

This week marks OccupyCU’s Student Week of Action. Read on for Bwog’s resident #OWS correspondent Jed Bush’s coverage of Day One: “End the Sotheby’s Lockout” rally.  

Columbia’s Student Week of Action, orchestrated by OccupyCU, got off to a rather low-key start today, but that didn’t stop the 25 or so protesters planted in front of the Law School at noon from making some noise. They targeted former President of Columbia University, current Chancellor Kent Professor of Law at the Law School,  and current Chairman of the Board at Sotheby’s, Michael Sovern, criticizing his poor track record on union rights.

Protesters in front of the Law School

The issue, according to their flier:

“Sotheby’s has kept its Teamsters 814 art handlers locked out… for the past 13 weeks [because they] would not accept Sotheby’s demand that they take a 10% cut in pay and hours, give up their 401(k) plan, and allow their work to be increasingly contracted out to low-paid workers who have no union to protect their rights. The art handlers at Sotheby’s have historically been majority people of color… This attack is not only classist, it’s racist.”

Sharp criticism, especially when you take into account that Sovern is, according to his Columbia bio, a current board member of the NAACP Defense Fund and a founding member of both the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund.

Still, as an issue that was seemingly disconnected from the day-to-day runnings of the university, most students that passed by, undergrads and Law students alike, were ambivalent to the cries of “union busting.” Yet where the protest may have failed to resonate with students, it succeeded admirably with University union workers, as a small contingent stood in solidarity with Teamsters 814 in front of the Law School. Maida Rosenstein, President of UAW Local 2110, the union responsible for representing Columbia’s clerical workers, was present and protested with the students on 116th. (more…)