Student leaders at The New School from SOC Weekly, Autonomous South Asian Collective, La XENTE, Queer Collective, Black Student Union and others are uniting their voices to once again bring our demands to the administration. On Friday March 30th, Eugene Lang Dean Stephanie Browner and principal architect Rhoda Kennedy will host the semester's first Space Planning Forum to discuss the coming renovations to Eugene Lang College buildings. At this forum, we will make our case public and demand that the administration designate space for people of color in the new Lang remodel, as well as make good on their past promises to improve the functionality of the Social Justice Hub for organizing purposes.
If you are interested in supporting this, we ask that you sign our petition and share it widely among your networks. We also encourage New School community members to attend the open forum on the 30th to support our demands and concerns.
Below is our open letter to Dean Browner and Lang administration. _____________________
Dear Dean Browner:
We are writing to once again articulate the needs of students of color at Eugene Lang College and across the broader University as the Lang Space Planning Committee moves forward in making plans for the upcoming renovations of the Lang College buildings. As many members of the Lang community know, these are conversations that students have previously brought to the table without any serious action from Lang College.
We see these open talks as an opportunity to revisit the issue of space for students of color on campus. The purpose of this letter is twofold: We ask that The New School take our suggestions into account to either convert currently under-utilized space for students of color-only use and if not, to construct a student of color-only space within the upcoming Lang remodel. We ultimately would like a dedicated, exclusive space for students of color.
In December 2014—sixteen days after a jury acquitted Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown—President David Van Zandt and Provost Tim Marshall issued a statement with four steps the school would take to “model the highest standards of social justice” on campus. Within these promises was a commitment to diverse faculty, staff and student recruitment, as well as a promise to “continue to expand services and resources in the Baldwin Rivera Boggs Social Justice Hub.”
We use this time to call attention to the continued lack of support and effort into actualizing the Social Justice Hub’s capacity for student-based organizing and empowerment. In 2018, the impacts of the President and Provost’s statement are barely visible, if at all. The Social Justice Hub is little more than a misshapen closet and auxiliary Parsons studio. It is a sterile flat that student organizers take their own time to perpetually make welcoming for others—this labor, of course, is unseen and largely uncompensated. In a university that (according to latest published data) employs less than 500 faculty of color in a workforce of over 2,000 and enrolls less than 3,000 students of color in a body of almost 13,000, spaces such as the Social Justice Hub and people of color-only areas are integral.
The New School has repeatedly disappointed students of color with its broken promises and lack of investment. We feel the University has already exhausted the shallow gestures of email statements affirming commitment or the formulation of a working group committee. Our request is clear and explicit: a commitment to fulfill the original mission of the Baldwin Rivera Boggs Social Justice Hub and to create a dedicated space for students of color in the newly renovated Lang buildings. Lang has the opportunity to succeed where the University has not—to actualize its mission to be a college rooted in the ideals of social justice.
In closing, we align ourselves with the histories of student activism at The New School and recognize our commitment to diversity and equity within Eugene Lang College. We look forward to your response.
Hunter Stewart and Adriana Herrera Perhamus (SOC Weekly), Jasveen Sarna and Nihira Ram (Autonomous South Asian Collective), Talia Moore (Black Student Union), Omar Abreu (Queer Collective), Iyana Martin Diaz and Jasmin Gilliam (Peer Health Advocates), Jade Merriwether (Civic Engagement & Social Justice) Yesenia Lazaro and Sophia Garcia (La XENTE, Sanctuary Working Group), Maren Hurley-Matz and Eliza Kamerling-Brown (Racial Justice Collective)