higher learning

NYU Student Flips Out Over Occupy Wall Street Assignment

Demonstrators with 'Occupy Wall Street' continue their protest at Zuccotti Park in New York on November 4, 2011. The encampment in the financial district of New York City is now in its second month. The demonstrators are protesting bank bailouts, foreclosures and high unemployment. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
The horror. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Sara Ackerman, an unhinged New York University undergraduate student, completely lost it over the course of seven huge e-mails to professors and deans protesting an assigned ethnography of Zuccotti Park. So opposed to Occupy Wall Street was Ackerman that she fired off thousands of words — complete with bolded and underlined segments — to university President John Sexton, insisting her professor be forced to resign for trying to make students deal with the demonstrators — “criminals, drug addicts, mentally ill people,” in Ackerman’s words. When the school directed her to mental health services (where she was cleared), Ackerman threatened to go public. Now, it’s all out there, thanks to campus blog NYU Local.

Ackerman was eventually granted an alternative assignment, which she has not yet completed, but not before she took a pilgrimage to Zuccotti Park “with two other young girls, who are quite attractive and thin, and don’t look particularly physically fit enough to take on a potential predator, rapist, paranoid schizophrenic, etc,” she wrote. The student says she “escaped an extremely dangerous — and even, life threatening — situation.”

Elsewhere, Ackerman complains about how she was treated in class by a teaching assistant: “I kept my hand up for about 75 seconds — a long time to keep one’s arm raised, by the way — and Jen still did not call on me, or she dismissed my questions, thoughts, and opinions.” The NYU senior threatened to go public with her story via an op-ed in one of four “reputable newspapers.” She went on (and on — here are the full e-mails):

Really? I should write the paper anyway?

Even though you knew that my safety was unnecessarily compromised, and that I was unjustly forced to go to a movement that runs entirely against my core values, and principles?

Even though a woman had already been raped at OWS, and I mentioned this to you?

Even though there was explicitly dangerous drug use at the site?

Even though mentally ill people, and criminals had started to take up residence in Zuccotti park?

I mentioned all of this to you, and you did nothing substantial to help me.

What does this sound like to you Dean Kalb? What would you think if you read an op-ed like the one I am describing is already written and ready to be published, with your name in it?

Please keep in mind that I am not threatening you, just telling — just painting a picture.

Ackerman later claimed that she was offered an A in exchange for keeping quiet. The university tells NYU Local that Ackerman’s accusations have been found to be “unwarranted” and that typically, “we try to come to some sort of common-sense resolution, but that does not involve offering ‘A’s, and we do not give grades or credit for work not completed. Most of the time, complaints can be resolved amicably and sensibly, but sometimes that’s just not how it works.”

Clearly, no matter what student health says, this person is having some sort of a mental breakdown and needs help. And she’s been reading way too much of the New York Post.

NYU Student Flips Out Over Occupy Wall Street