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We’ll update this post as more developments roll in.
It’s the ninth day of the strike, and this time the vigil isn’t just a quiet watch. Starting an hour ago, about 150 kids gathered around the sundial to hear members of the striker negotiation team speak, standing in silence and chanting in response when asked. According to strike negotiator Christien Tompkins, there’s “some kind of fancy alumni dinner tomorrow” featuring former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and “they certainly don’t want them to see how upset the students are with this administration.” The administration, he said, has threatened to force two strikers to go on academic leave for their health. Meanwhile, they say, the administration has said that negotiations will not be continuing–and they haven’t been productive so far.
“They have not made any concessions to the hunger strike at all,” he said. “They have merely explained how we can participate in the bureaucratic process.”
After a march to the steps of Hamilton, where administrators are meeting, a large crowd has gathered and is now listening to speeches. Stay tuned for updates.
10:02 PM: We’ve just been informed that the administrators are no longer in Hamilton. Maybe they were airlifted from the roof. Now the plan is to march around campus and reconvene, or something. And Nellie Bailey of the Harlem Tenants Council, as well as other typical characters from the neighborhood, are here firing kids up. “This is an historic moment! There’s no need to try to recapture 1968, because this is 2007. Don’t fall for the hype, it’s all smoke and mirrors, you are the 21st century generation!”
More more more after the jump! Now including striker-admin agreement!
11:15 PM – After the protesters marched on Hamilton, they continued their circuit past John Jay, Butler, and Lerner like a swarm of really angry fireflies, wax dripping from their candles along the bricks. At 10:13 or so, the marchers convened at the sundial to discuss the night. Admins had threatened to take down their octopus campsite, they said, by midnight, but they would simply not let that happen. Dancing and speeches ensued, and leaders promised that tomorrow at noon they would continue the rally.
It was around this time that several familiar faces were noticeably absent, and sure enough we spotted the primary negotiators hanging out in the Lerner lobby, fresh from talking with the administrative corps and newly-designated primary liaison Dean Ajay Nair.
11:20 PM – We have heard that due to the rally, administrators have reopened their negotiations– More on that is to come! As of the past five minutes, students are milling about the sundial, attended by security, playing catchy tunes on guitars (“Don’t Stop Believin'”, anyone?)
Here are some more pictures sent in by people inside Hamilton during the mini-siege and other cool tipsters who are helping us out.
11:37 PM – Major Cultures seminars are a go! More info to come.
UPDATE, 12:35 AM: OK, so we got the rundown. Here’s how the day went, according to all-purpose Communicator Sam Rennebohm, GS ’09, and others:
Sometime in the late afternoon, the administration presented the negotiation team with a document containing the concessions they were prepared to make about the academic reforms, under the condition that the team have one more round of edits before making their final offer. The admins also said that of the hunger strike does not end tomorrow, two of the strikers, Bryan Mercer and Emilie Rosenblatt, who have been deemed a liability because of their health by Health Services, will face disciplinary action–since they’ve become a liability to the university, that action might include more-or-less forced academic leave. The strike committee refused this offer.
Meanwhile, at 2:30, the negotiation team met with Executive Vice President for Government and Community Affairs Maxine Griffith about expansion, presenting five distinct demands. Bwog was there, but the meeting was off the record, so that’s about as much as we can tell you.
So then the rally happened, during which the admin relocated to Lerner. Sometime during the march, negotiators received news that the admin was willing to reopen negotiations, and the hunger strikers vowed to continue until there is significant agreement on all four of the demands.
Things to which the administration has committed:
– Student participation and voting power in a CSER review, to begin in Fall 2008 and end in Spring 2009, which will include hiring the three three new “cluster hire” faculty members. They stopped short of awarding hiring power to the Center, since CSER faculty are still divided over whether that’s even desirable.
– More student representation on the Committee on the Core, including potentially public meetings.
– Student participation in an outside review of the OMA, to begin in January and continue for 6-9 months. On the table in this review will be an “upper level administrator” for Multicultural Affairs across all undergraduate arts and science schools.
– By the end of November, a decision on the expansion of the Intercultural Resource Center, including an LGBT community center
– Fundraising $50 million to develop a Major Cultures seminar, which would have to go through a pilot stage and extensive review processes (think Frontiers) before becoming a full-fledged Core requirement.
– Mandatory anti-oppression training (which the B&W explained in a cover story last year) for all incoming new faculty.
– A Blue Ribbon panel, composed of students and faculty, to ensure that these agreements come to fruition. That’s what they were missing in the events of 1996.
So, they’re meeting again tomorrow to come to a final agreement, but Rennebohm says that three out of the four areas of negotiation are “pretty much resolved.”
Looks like that octopus’ days are numbered.
– LBD, KER & SEV