By Surekha Ratnatunga
Published: February 20, 2009

Amidst the swelling crowd at Kimmel’s cafeteria Wednesday night, NYU Local’s Charlie Eisenhood began what has now become a legendary lesson in liveblogging with the prophetic words:

Somebody just asked me if I needed a number for legal counsel if I get thrown in jail. Looks like this might be a bit more than a dance party.

Just before 10PM, TBNYU! [Take Back NYU] barricaded the doors to the cafeteria and began reading out a list of demands, which included budget disclosure, making Bobst [library] public and giving aid/scholarships to Gaza. Half an hour later, NYPD had a small presence outside Kimmel. According to Charlie’s coverage, TBNYU! members were open to negotiating with administrators from the start.

Before protesters started taking naps around 3.30AM, the occupation seemed somewhat wholesome. Charlie got some great pictures of people dancing, painting posters and playing cards. One NYU Security guard was quoted as saying, “It’s not a barricade, we could tear that down anytime. Get something heavier.”. . .

Charlie's complete blogs with his photos and video: Day One, Day Two, Day Two Night, Day Two Late Night, Day Three

Click on sub-heads to continue reading the original articles from NYU Local. If your Feed Reader doesn't support videos, click on [Video] to open them on Youtube.

Day One, February 18, 2009 NYU Kimmel [Video] Occupation Starts

Charlie Eisenhood NYU Local blogs live from inside:

9:54 PM - Doors barricaded. [3rd floor student center dining room] “This is now an occupied space!” . . .

10:04 PM - This is for real. A Take Back NYU student leader just read the list of demands. . .

11:14 PM - I sat down with Maria Lewis, a TBNYU member and major organizer (although she wouldn’t admit to that since TBNYU is a non-hierarchical group), a moment ago to discuss why the group decided to make such a drastic move. She told me that they’ve been trying to “work with the administration for 2 years,” and their letter writing, press conference holding, and calm discussion failed. They can’t understand why there is “no transparency with our tuition dollars.” She told me that, since being nice didn’t work, “[they] decided to take it up a notch.”

Lewis continued, “We want to be democratic participants in this institution of learning…We decided to physically reclaim the space, to take back the space.” She also stressed that they were doing this in solidarity with the Palestinians in the Gaza strip. . . .

12:31 AM - Fearless prediction: The administration isn’t going to have any of this. . .

5:13 AM - Only a hardcore handful remain awake. The lights can’t be turned off so it’s pretty difficult to drift off, even at this hour. I’m wishing I could sleep, but prowling instead. . . .

Day Two, February 19, 2009 NYU Kimmel Occupation / Balcony Liberated [Video] / Street Rallies

Charlie Eisenhood NYU Local still blogging from inside:

10:11 AM - The smokers are going crazy. They haven’t been able to smoke since around 9 last night. One guy just said to me, coffee in hand, “When I get a cigarette in me, I’m gonna pass out from ecstasy.”

10:29 AM - Negotiations beginning now.

10:35 AM - I have been informed by the girl who dislikes me (”fucked up” comment last night) that I am not allowed to listen to the negotiations because I am here as press and not as an activist. I did catch the first part - no concessions to open the balcony for smokers/press conference. Not a good start…

12:27 PM - The delay of the press conference seems to be caused by a desire to wait for more students to gather out front.

12:45 PM - Straight up ridick. There is a girl topless outside standing by the barricade. [Feminist Ninjas from NYU, "Show your tits for TBNYU! . . ."] Lots of people. No press conference yet. . . .

2:52 PM - BREAKING: Between 20 and 40 guards just entered Kimmel. Fear is setting in.

4:58 PM - Chant begins: “Disclose it/Get off it/Put students over profit”

5:02 PM - Conference underway. [Balcony Rally Video] “We will not stand for these scare tactics!” (referring to threats of expulsion). “We demand the administration negotiate with us now!”

5:09 PM - Protesters just asked for support from crowd all night, particularly at 1 AM at which time they are supposedly illegally here. . . .

Day Two Night, February 19, 2009 NYU Kimmel Occupation / Street Rally

Charlie Eisenhood NYU Local still blogging from inside

8:19 PM - This is the most negative I’ve seen the group tonight. I’m overhearing talks of failure and fear. People are worried about being arrested and/or expelled. A little tense in here.

8:23 PM - @Kristen: As long as they need to, they say. However, people keep leaving - that could end up causing trouble. Which leads me to @Avery: my current count is 33. It’s definitely dwindled.

8:37 PM - @Kate Turtle: I think you’re right. The people remaining here are brave; they are aware of the fact that this probably won’t end well. I’ve been thinking about what the endgame might look like. I don’t foresee negotiations - there hasn’t been even an inkling of a serious offer on the part of the administration to talk to the protesters. I think it could get rough. Discuss. . . .

8:57 PM - BREAKING: More people just busted in through the barricade [Video] to join the occupiers.

9:05 PM - Lots of people just got in. Takes a little time to post to YouTube but i’ll have it shortly. Not surprisingly, people are hyped again.

9:15 PM - Well over 50 people got in. Guards are pissed, Bob is red-faced angry. Guard broke (correct to: hurt) his arm too. Yikes. . . .

11:41 PM - . . . Fearless Prediction: This is all over by 2 AM. The more little snippets of conversation I hear, the more I think NYU’s just gonna bring in the NYPD at 1. Every “negotiation” put on the table by NYU seems to have a “You’re outta here by 1 AM tonight” provision.

11:46 PM - Overheard: “Let’s not get scared, guys.” ==> Get scared, guys. . . .

11:54 PM - “Negotiations about the negotiations” have begun. The administration offered, as a “favor,” a “safe haven” program which allowed students to leave and get only NYU probation. TBNYU rejected the offer. . . .

Day Two Late Night, February 19, 2009, NYU Kimmel Occupation / Street Rally / Police Scuffle / Take Back NYU Retreat

Charlie Eisenhood NYU Local still blogging from inside

12:24 AM - More confirmation of lots of cops on east side of Kimmel. Anastasia called me out in the comments as a fool — remains to be seen.

Also, fellow NYU Local staffers aren’t being allowed into the building, although WSN staffers are. Let the heat of 1,000 suns pour down upon the scuzball who decided on that policy. . . .

12:44 AM - What’s going to happen at 1 AM? Everyone has an opinion. Give yours.

12:47 AM - I’m sitting in my chair hearing the cries of hundreds of TBNYU supporters in front of Kimmel chanting, “Take! Back! NYU!” and catching vague clips of the TBNYU meeting I’m not welcomed into. All this while guards lurk to my right and cops are an eerie presence. The room is bristling with anticipation. 1 AM approaches. . . .

1:01 AM - The calm before the storm?

1:04 AM- We’ve been offered a chance to leave now. I can’t leave. I’ve been following this story for over 28 hours straight. I know you all are waiting to hear what happens. I got you. I’m in it for the long haul.

1:09 AM - Violence in the streets [Video]. People are actively fighting cops.

1:17 AM - Definitely follow the twitter feed but it’s now 1:16, there’s ACTUAL rioting in the street i have video of everything it’ll go up as soon as i can put it up. Negotiations seem ongoing here in the room with Bob.

NYU students face arrest and expulsion I’m hearing.

1:21 AM - Documents were just handed out to everyone. They are “safe harbor” agreements that suspend any disciplinary charges for the remainder of student’s tenure at NYU. Photo coming.

1:27 AM - TBNYU is having another secret meeting. More in a second.

"NYU Occupation Riot and TBNYU Scurry Away" [Video]

AM - Correction: They will be allowed to stay the night but there will be NO amnesty and NO negotiations. They have no safety net. They can be fully prosecuted by NYPD and NYU. (at least for now)

As for me, this must end my time as a liveblogger here at Kimmel. I absolutely need sleep. But we’ll be back tomorrow with the final story of what happens to TBNYU.

Day Three Kimmel Occupation Ends

Charlie Eisenhood NYU Local Wrap-up

12:13 PM - Hey, all. Charlie here. I just spoke to Emily Stainkamp and she informed me that administrators and security guards raided the 3rd floor and rounded up the remaining protestors. They are all being suspended.

The team of five negotiators (before this raid) went to negotiate and were apparently detained and suspended as well. It’s currently unclear if any negotiations actually took place.

Charlie Eisenhood NYU Local Final Thoughts
Published: February 23, 2009

Three days have now passed since the end of my long stay inside the barricaded Kimmel dining hall and I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and collect my thoughts about the experience. I have some information to share that I couldn’t publish during the occupation (for various reasons) and ideas about why the response from the NYU and outside community has been resoundingly negative. . . .

Other NYU Local Stories on Kimmel Occupation Ends and [Index]

No Arrests Made, No Demands Met

By Cody Brown
Published: February 20, 2009

The third floor of Kimmel has been cleared and no arrests made. None of the 13 demands of TBNYU! have been met and there were never any extensive meetings with the administration about meeting them. . . .

Only Student Arrested Speaks Out

By Surekha Ratnatunga
Published: Feb 24, 2009

Alexander Deschamps, Steinhardt ‘09, was the only NYU student arrested during the occupation of Kimmel last week. He was charged with unlawful assembly, inciting a riot, resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental administration after climbing a ‘No Parking’ sign outside of Kimmel late night Thursday, according to NY Daily News. . . .

Protesters to Lose Housing

By Jessica Roy
Published: February 20, 2009

After emerging breathlessly from her 3rd day spent holed up in Kimmel, TBNYU!’s Farah Khimji had much to say concerning her epic ordeal. Alongside New York City Councilman Barron, Khimji made claims of security guard brutality, including “3-4 big men throwing [her] to the ground.” She explained that all TBNYU students that remained until Friday (an estimated 10 students) were to be suspended and kicked out of NYU housing.

According to both Khimji and James Devitt of the NYU Public Affairs Office, the protesters will be escorted by security to collect their belongings, but they are not allowed back into any NYU buildings, including their dorms. The administration will be offering those without a place to go “alternative housing” for a period of time, but Devitt would not go into specifics with me. Some students accepted this proposal, while others declined. However, all students involved who were suspended have lost their housing. . . .

OPINION: The 7 Errors Take Back NYU Made in Their Occupation

By Jack Manley
Published: February 23, 2009

I would like to take this opportunity to list 7 errors the Take Back NYU protesters made that could be rectified in future protests to a much more effective end:

1. While lord knows I agree with almost all of the demands they made save the public opening of Bobst (library) due to the security risks it presents), they made too many demands at one time. . . .

Aftermath: [Video] Demonstration in solidarity with suspended students

AP News Recap [Video] of NYU Kimmel Occupation

Another Rally For the Protest That Won’t Die

By Lily Q
Published Feb 23, 2009

In case you haven’t had enough of TBNYU!/Kimmel . . . --NewsHammer 2/24/2009


  1. Alan Gillis // 3/31/2009 12:29 PM  

    Alan Gillis Comment on this article in NYU Local
    Feb 24, 2009 16:36

    The Kimmel Occupation might be a minor blip in the long run for NYU, but it sure captured everybody’s imagination.

    More openness and transparency, with more student input and oversight on university affairs is just more democracy. I don’t think TBNYU should be judged harshly for that or students punished.

    Gaza has lately sparked more serious student demonstrations and occupations, especially in England, including clashes with the police. You can read about them on the online newsmagazines, NewsHammer and NewsHammerOnCampus.

    But NYU’s Occupation, especially due to Charlie’s liveblogging, has been turned into something more personal and fascinating. The more I read and watched the videos, the more I wanted to know. I wound up reconstructing the drama from NYU Local’s coverage into a magazine overview feature, you’ll also find on NewsHammer.

    Thanks to everyone at NYU Local for a great student news site and your work on this story Charlie.

    In the final analysis I saw the drama being played out as only a stone’s throw away from Dog Day Afternoon. What next, Take Back NYU, the movie?

    –Alan Gillis


    Only Student Arrested During Occupation Speaks Out

    Breaking: No Suspensions and a Return to Housing