The New School community no longer recognizes the authority of The Board of Trustees, the President, and the President’s Leadership Team (PLT). For far too long, we have been divided into the hierarchical roles of academic, non-academic, teacher, student, and staff. In a unique moment of solidarity throughout and beyond the strike, we have come together from all sectors of this institution to form the One New School Coalition. In the spirit of the founders of The New School, who envisioned a university without administrators, a university that allowed for affordable, radical, and accessible education, this Coalition has set itself upon a path towards self-governance. We require time and effort to reach this goal, but we know that one day soon, The New School will no longer be governed by a body of high-paid administrators chosen by a small group of wealthy trustees who have no standing in the world of education.
To reach its objective, the One New School Coalition will rely on something other than the work and collaboration of the existing University Leadership, whose authority it does not recognize. As a result, rather than demanding change and waiting for amendments to be granted from above, the One New School Coalition and its constituency pledge to reimagine the university autonomously and, as much as possible, unilaterally. Implementing a different structure must come through the proactive subversion of the existing power dynamics.
Starting in the Spring Semester of 2023 and continuing until the aforementioned goal of self-governance is reached, the One New School Coalition undertakes to restructure The New School per yearly targets collectively and democratically identified by its constituency and listed in detail (both as to their nature and to the steps necessary for their achievement) in the Yearly Blueprint for a Changing New School.
The Blueprint will be divided into a Timeline and an Outline. The Timeline will include a list of the intermediate goals for 2023 with proposed, reasonable deadlines for their achievement. The Outline will enumerate and clarify the steps that the Coalition and, in particular, dedicated Working Groups will take to achieve the goals listed in the Timeline.
In setting up this First Blueprint for a Changing New School, the current constituents of the One New School Coalition invite future constituents to produce an updated blueprint for the following calendar year during every fall semester.
Timeline of intermediate goals
Please note that a detailed strategic Outline follows the timeline for the realization of the blueprint.
Designating a Black Affinity Space and Relocating the POC Space
Time frame: Week 2, Spring '23
Votes of No Confidence from all divisions of the University in all–whether on the Board of Trustees or in the University Leadership
Time frame: Week 2, Spring '23
Supporting community needs without the involvement of the University Leadership
Time frame: Continuous
Mapping and Restructuring the University
Time frame: Academic 2023-24
Student Power and Organizing
Time frame: Continuous
Departmental/Divisional Internal Restructuring
Time frame: Continuous
Goal 1: Designating a Black Affinity Space and Relocating POC Space
(a) A working group (led by BSU and Obsidian) will identify suitable spaces and work with staff to formalize these spaces' allocation and carry out the structural/physical changes necessary for the purposes requested.
Goal 2: Votes of No Confidence
(a) In the wake of the strike, the New School community is left with the realization that the executive leadership team has failed. To repair the damage, all divisions of The New School must issue a vote of no confidence to obtain the current administration's resignation.
(b) While the One New School Coalition aims for self-governance, it recognizes that we must take intermediate steps. The first of these steps will be to work towards the expression of votes of no confidence in the current administration from each school's divisions, modeled on the language of the One New School vote of no confidence.
(c) A working group recommends the votes be scheduled and carried out successfully.
Goal 3: Supporting community needs without the involvement of the University Leadership
(a) Constituents of the One New School Coalition believe that to transform and deliver adequate community care and support truly, we cannot collaborate with the current University Leadership nor any leadership that functions within the institutional structure. One New School will develop a para-administrative system rooted in the community.
(b) To do so, the Community Needs Working Group will begin by offering spaces for dialogue between students, staff, and faculty to identify existing grievances and creative means to foster a thriving community that provides support for all, with emphasis on the needs of the most vulnerable parts of our community, which the current and previous administration have repeatedly failed.
(c) The working group will bring together students, staff, and faculty to organize processes in which departments can better serve the people who've dealt with the unintuitive and harmful systems. Departments range from Student Success, Student Health Services, and Financial Aid to Student Disability Services, International Students and Scholars Services, Career Development, and other similar offices.
(d) In addition to re-envisioning the University's current "support" sectors, our community needs immediate support as we simultaneously restructure with the long term in mind. We know that prevalent issues in our community are food insecurity, lack of adequate health access, disability accommodation, and financial precarity, all of which are impasses to one's ability to learn, teach, and work. With this in mind, we seek to reimagine, organize, and implement what a regenerative support network looks like: for us, by us. We will then prioritize supplanting the existing inadequate structures by employing our own systems, such as a community center that functions on campus to provide things like food, menstrual products, art supplies, reading materials, and physical space. Rather than simply airing grievances, we want to work proactively on creative solutions.
(e) To the latter note, we call upon outside community members and organizers, as well as faculty, students, and staff, to foster this restorative space by participating and creating teach-ins and workshops, which allow for participatory and accessible education. The truth is that many of the issues and harm that affect people within the institution do not operate in a vacuum and are indicative of more extensive damages produced under neoliberalism and racial capitalism. Therefore, to foster a synergistic network of support systems throughout the institution, it is necessary to look towards and work collaboratively with the knowledge and experiences that exist outside of the walls of academia.
Goal 4: Mapping and Restructuring the University
(a) The One New School Coalition aims to reach a deeper understanding of the power and bureaucratic dynamics of the University. The purpose of this work is twofold: achieving financial and administrative transparency and enabling the Coalition to organize alternative, more participatory models of governance for the school.
(b) A working group will map the university's administration structures. We need more transparency about how powers, resources, and responsibilities are distributed amongst the many branches of administration. In concert with the various staff teams, whose knowledge of the everyday operation of the University is unmatched, it will develop a clear organization chart of the current administration to help us to clarify where administrative bloat exists and inform our decisions.
(c) Such mapping will include auditing the school's Board of Trustees and its members. This work will consist of continuing to work towards publicizing the existing archival material on the workings of the Board (which the University has already repeatedly rejected). This process of auditing will be crucial to determine who on the Board may have been derelict in endowment development duties, responsible for poor fiscal decisions, or who engage in practices that violate our community values.
(d) The working group will also reflect on possible alternatives to the current model and structure of the Board of Trustees in the future, always with an eye to One New School Coalition's final goal of self-governance.
(e) Conscious that financial transparency will not be granted from above, from an administration whose authority, at any rate, we deny, the One New School Coalition will advocate for implementing financial transparency from the bottom up within our departments and divisions.
(f) With a view to the establishment of more participatory forms of governance, the Mapping and Restructuring Working Group will explore, in particular, the feasibility of two measures and develop a plan for their implementation:
Establishing a pay ratio between the highest and lowest-paid workers at our University.
Creating participatory processes of budgeting.
Goal 5: Student Power & Organizing
(a) One New School Coalition will implement a bottom-up tuition freeze in response to the University's failure to promise that it will not hike up the tuition. In case of a raise in tuition, the students will decide whether to refuse to pay tuition altogether or to continue paying the current amount.
(b) One New School Coalition will rethink student governance and power dynamics at the University, bringing into question the current structure and functions of the Student Senate and its very existence.
(c) This group will develop a plan for the communal use of the President's Townhouse, which One New School believes should become a community resource rather than a personal privilege of the President.
(d) When an administration that pledges to follow this blueprint is elected, the President's townhouse will not be offered to the New President.
(e) A working group should be formed to work out a firm plan for the current President's townhouse. Should it be sold? Should it be used for communal activities? What type of activities?
(f) A joint committee (comprising of current senators and other non-elected students) will be formed to work out a proposal for a new University Student Senate that has different powers, is not so tightly connected to the administration as it is now, and can turn into a natural body for student advocacy. This work may require that the Student Senate is disbanded entirely and a different body is formed.
Goal 6: Internal Departmental/Divisional Restructuring
(a) Each department/school/class/division will conduct internal conversations regarding structural economic and pedagogical changes that may be necessary to carry out under the goal of self-governance.
How can staff, teachers, and faculty run departments as if there was no university leadership?
If the school is not financially transparent, can we make our departments financially transparent?
If the school does not take the side of its workers, can divisions and departments take their side?
If the school doesn't listen to the concerns and needs of its community, can schools, departments, and even individual classes listen to them?
(b) This will include:
finding ways to increase protections for Students who fall short of course requirements due to health-related concerns
affordability and accessibility of essential resources and course materials, as was demanded by the Occupation.
(c) Departments should appoint working groups of faculty, staff, and students to lead this work.