As of yesterday, the quixotic NYU student rally at Kimmel Hall was proceeding more like a party than a protest. There was dancing, finger-painting, and even some public nudity! But around 1 a.m. last night, things started to go south. The students thought the school was getting ready to negotiate on their list of demands, but in actuality the administration shut down the student center where about two dozen students were holed up on the third floor, and cleared everyone else out. They took the deal of amnesty for protesting students off the table, and let them stew there, facing expulsion or probation.
Sometime after midnight, the university shut down Internet access in the Kimmel building, so the students inside could no longer communicate with the outside world. Graduate students quickly took over the TakeBackNYU blog, providing essential updates for the rest of the night. ("Helsinki University has also pledged solidarity with the NYU occupation!") Around 4 a.m., NYULocal, a campus blog, posted the following apt and hilarious takedown:
With nearly 700 students joining together at 12:59am, the air was rife with anticipation that the evening’s previous threat would breed the kind of scene that would grace the cover of The New York Post or The Daily News, and, if the stars aligned, would garner a blurb on the twenty-third page of The New York Times’ Friday edition. But what happened at 1:00 a.m. was a sad display of what our university plans on doing over this pressing issue: they pussied out. No officers entered the building. No arrests were made. No tear gas filled the Kimmel Cafeteria. And no drastic action occurred, despite the threats of [University officials].
...So for now, the students may again sleep on the cold floor of Kimmel, smoke their remaining clove cigarettes on the balcony they broke their property-damage resolution for, rub their eyes as the cold glare of fluorescent lighting streams down upon them, and dine on the unquestionable deliciousness of mashed potatoes and ludicrous demands.
How stupendous would it have been for those students had tear gas been employed? How ridiculous would it have been had the university done so? Oh, the glory of it all. Outside, where many more students were gathered in support of those inside, scuffles with cops began around 1:30, according to the Daily News. While the kids inside the school were clearly jonesing for a fight, or catharsis of some kind, the ones outside were the ones who were carted away by police (okay, it was one dude). "Batons started flying," a hysterical sophomore told the tabloid. "At least a dozen people got injured. This is a clear case of police brutality." Neither the newspaper nor cops could confirm whether anyone was actually hurt.
As the students inside wait for the school to offer them amnesty for essentially shutting down NYU's campus (and forget about West 4th Street), it looks like this might drag on until the weekend. Unless, of course, the school stops generously feeding the protesters and letting them go to the bathroom. Then, we imagine, things will wrap up quite quickly.