People's University in Washington Square

Out from the classrooms and into public space, in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.
Apr 5 '13

SEJ Featured in NYU Local

Check out the coverage we got from NYU Local!


“People are being more critical of John Sexton and the Board of Trustees,” Parks said, addressing the lack of response the group has seen from the administration. “I think he’s going to have to start paying more attention to students and faculty now.”

Apr 2 '13

Mar 9 '13

State of the Homeless 2013 Report

The State of the Homeless 2013 report is available here (PDF). Following is the news release:

For Immediate Release: March 5, 2013

50,000: Homeless Count Crosses Grim Milestone In Bloomberg’s Final Year

Legacy of Policy Failures Presents Major Challenge for Next Mayor

21,000 Homeless Children Sleep in Shelters Each Night

NEW YORK - The Coalition for the Homeless released its 2013 State of the Homeless report today showing that for the first time the number of homeless New Yorkers sleeping in emergency shelter each night has passed 50,000 – a 61% increase since Mayor Bloomberg took office in January of 2002. The number of homeless children is now over 21,000 per night, also an all-time high.

“Unimaginable just a few years ago, New York City now has the shameful distinction of being home to more than 50,000 homeless people, including more than 21,000 children,” said Mary Brosnahan, President of the Coalition for the Homeless. “This is a tragedy of City Hall’s own making. Had Mayor Bloomberg simply followed the strategy of previous mayors of both parties and prioritized moving the homeless into permanent affordable housing, there would be thousands fewer families and children in our shelter system today.”

As the report shows, the grim numbers are a direct result of the Bloomberg administration’s years-long failure to use proven, cost-effective strategies for moving homeless families into affordable homes. Under the Bloomberg Administration – which famously promised to cut homelessness by two-thirds – New York City has cut off virtually all Federal housing assistance, including public housing and “Section 8”rental vouchers, for homeless children and families, becoming the first Mayor in modern history to have no housing program for homeless families.

The report’s key findings include:

— Record homelessness: An average50,135 people slept each night in city shelters in January, 2013, a 19% increase since last year and a 61% increase from when Mayor Bloomberg first took office.

— Child homelessness continues to surge: In January, an average 11,984 families, up 73% since Mayor Bloomberg took office, and 21,034 children, up 22% from a year ago and 61% from 2002, stayed in shelters each night.

— Length of stay now over one year: With few affordable housing options, the average length of shelter stay for families with children is up 10% to a record 375 days. Families without children averaged a whopping 484 days in shelter.

— The 1980s return: Single adult homelessness is at its highest level in decades, with an average 10,840 homeless single adults sleeping each night in municipal shelters, an increase of 11% from a year ago and just shy of the all time high (10,903 single adults, March, 1987)

— $$$ - The surge of homelessness comes at steep cost to taxpayers. Since Mayor Bloomberg took office, the expenses of the NYC Department of Homeless Services have increased by 77%, from $540.2 million (FY 2002) to $955.3 million (projected for the current FY 2013).

The data do not include the thousands of families made homeless by Hurricane Sandy, or those living in separate shelter systems, including shelters for domestic violence survivors and runaway and homeless youth.

The Legacy of Advantage

While the Bloomberg Administration has repeatedly blamed the end of the Advantage program for record homelessness, the report shows that in fact the deeply flawed, time-limited subsidy acted as a revolving door back to homeless shelters even before it was ended.

According to City data, more than 6,500 Advantage families with 14,000 children have returned to the shelter system as of the end of 2012, representing nearly 38% of all former Advantage recipients who lost their time-limited subsidies and did not obtain other housing subsidies. Today, nearly two out of three (63 percent) families entering the shelter system have been homeless before.

How to Reduce Homelessness

The report includes a call to return to the strategies that previous mayors have used to successfully reduce homelessness in New York City before: moving homeless families from shelters into permanent, affordable housing. The report called for:

  • Allowing the homeless to once again access Federal and City housing resources including NYCHA and Section 8.
  • The creation of an effective State-City rental assistance program to replace Advantage
  • A renewed “New York-New York” affordable housing construction program that would include new permanent supportive housing for homeless people living with mental illness

Originally from:

Mar 2 '13

Interview with Students for Economic Justice

In the “About” section of your blog, your group states that you “believe our university should be an institution governed by students, faculty, staff, and community members.” What exactly would this look like if accomplished? Do you know of any other universities that have successfully put this model into place?

Once we, Students for Economic Justice, get to the point where we have a university that is democratically governed there will be a lot of different opinions about exactly what mechanics would be used to govern the university. Right now speculating as to the exact details is not one of our priorities but what we can say for sure is that we want all of these groups to have a voice in the decision making process and when we say voice we mean a voice that actually has power. In the current model the University Senate holds only an advisory position, which we find to be very problematic. For a majority of the departments within NYU to pass a resolution condemning the expansion plan and then still have it go through makes it seem like the vast majority of students and faculty have little to no power.

Can you tell me a little bit about your group’s prior campaigns? Have you had any major success stories in the past?

SEJ is a really new group, so the Evict Chase campaign is our first, but we’re really inspired by past student victories at NYU and elsewhere, such as cutting our contract with Russell and Coke because of their violations of workers’ rights.

How did Students for Economic Justice first learn about the ties between JPMorgan Chase and NYU?

Some of our ties to Chase are easy to find on the internet, for example the NYU website lists our Board of Trustees, and one of them works for Chase. Other things took more research, like finding who our custodian bank is. Other things, like where our endowment is invested, we just don’t know because of a lack of transparency. But it’s clear NYU has many connections to Chase.

Now that you have delivered a letter to President John Sexton twice, what is the next step for SEJ in the Evict Chase campaign?

We’re going to be meeting with university senators, continuing our petition drive, having some public events, and hopefully at some point meeting with John Sexton.

Why do you think that NYU chooses  to lack financial transparency? Is there a reason why the university keeps faculty and students out of certain choices?

I’d like to be optimistic and say its for business competition, but my optimism is sometimes gets tinged with a good bit of skepticism, especially after a lot of our research. It’s very irritating to imagine that for every tiny scrap of information we’re given there’s maybe ten times as much that we’re not given. To answer your second question, it has to be the corporatization of university education. We honestly no longer have doubt about that. And when we say university corporatization we basically mean the centralization of power with the administration and the president, which leads to wage gaps on campus that reflect the  CEO/ worker wage gaps in corporations and a complete disregard of the opinions of anyone that is not a part of the administration . If there was more student power in our university we wouldn’t be connected to predatory foreclosure policies, we wouldn’t be connected to fossil fuels,  we wouldn’t be expanding, and Sexton wouldn’t have thelargest base salary  of all the private university presidents in America. When you are using financial measures simply to determine how to get the biggest bang for your buck, human rights often gets cut in ways we like to pretend don’t exist.

How optimistic is your group that you will be able to accomplish your goals with this campaign?

We’re very optimistic. It’s going to be a lot of work, but we’re going to win. And it’s also important to note that for us this isn’t just about winning the campaign, it’s also about changing the way our university is run and building student power and leadership. We want everyone to feel like they have a voice to speak up against anything they see done wrong, and we want to have dialogues about how to use those voices. I would definitely say that I have tremendous faith in our mission and our campaign.

Mar 2 '13

Apr 14 '12

May Day Free University

Dear students and student organizers,

We invite you to participate in the May Day Free University, a one-day, “pop-up” university taking place on May 1st from 10am-3pm in Madison Square Park.  The May Day Free University is being organized by a coalition of New York City students and educators, from high schools, colleges, and universities, so that we can envision the type of education that a more democratic, free, and just world requires and put that vision into action.

Our education is continually being remodeled and transformed into an anti-democratic and less inclusive institution. This month the total debt held by US students will surpass $1 trillion; tuition rates are skyrocketing up; our schools are becoming more privatized and bureaucratic; our buildings and campuses are militarizing; police are conducting surveillance on students; schools are becoming more secluded and alienated from the communities in which they reside; and schools are removing secure and tenure based positions to rely on contingent labor. It is urgent that we envision and create the type of education system that we want.

There are many ways that you can participate in and contribute to the May Day Free University:

  1. Come to the planning meeting this Sunday, April 15, 6pm, at the New School for Social Research, 6 East 16th St., Tenth Floor, Room 1009 (any ID required).
  2. Organize a workshop or teach-in at the Free University (send ideas and proposals to
  3.  Attend the Free University and participate in the workshops, classes
    and trainings (schedule forthcoming).
  4. Ask your teacher to bring your class to the Free University

On May Day, the Free University will be followed by a massive student convergence and march to Union Square to participate in the 4pm May Day Rally.

We hope to see you this Sunday at the Free University planning meeting and on May 1st in Madison Square Park.

Love and Solidarity,

The May Day Free University Planning Coalition

Feb 20 '12

Dec 5 '11

People’s U with David Graeber, Sat 12/10 at Noon!

The People’s University in Washington Square is thrilled to welcome thinker and activist David Graeber for a discussion on the Occupy movement.

Saturday, December 10, 2pm
following the NYC Student Assembly
@ Judson Memorial Church, 55 Wash Sq South

David Graeber is an American anthropologist, political activist and author. He is currently reader in social anthropology at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and was formerly an associate professor of anthropology at Yale University. David is a member of the labour union Industrial Workers of the World, and has played a role in events such as the 2002 New York protests against the World Economic Forum. His most recent book is Debt: The First 5,000 Years (2011).

Nov 20 '11

People’s University, Session 10: Olivier Besancenot

From New York to Paris, the Struggle Against Neoliberalism

Olivier Besancenot is one of the founding spokespersons of the French NPA (New Anti-Capitalist Party). He has been one of France’s most popular politicians. In 2002 at 28 he was the youngest presidential candidate in France’s history. He is the author of Tout est à nous (2002), Révolution (100 mots pour changer le monde, 2003), and Che Guevara: His Revolutionary Legacy (2009) with Michael Löwy.

Video shot and produced by RV Media -

Nov 18 '11

People’s University at new occupation in NYC: New School University

The previously scheduled tenth session of the People’s University on Saturday 11/19 at 1:30pm will be relocated 10 blocks north of Washington Square Park to the new occupation site in New York City, New School University, at 90 5th Ave (NW corner of 14th/5th).

This occupation is organized and coordinated by the NYC all student assembly. It is open to all students. Because the People’s University is determined to bring education out from the classrooms and into public spaces, we invite ALL to join us. Those who do not make it into the building will be able to hear our speaker via the two-story people’s mic, yet another imaginative tactical invention of #OWS.

We hope to see you there!

Session 10: Saturday, 11/19 1:30pm

From New York to Paris, the Struggle Against Neoliberalism


Olivier Besancenot

Olivier Besancenot is one of the founding spokespersons of the French NPA (New Anti-Capitalist Party). He has been one of France’s most popular politicians. In 2002 at 28 he was the youngest presidential candidate in France’s history. He is the author of Tout est à nous (2002), Révolution (100 mots pour changer le monde, 2003), and Che Guevara: His Revolutionary Legacy (2009) with Michael Löwy.