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Student activism may not be dead.

Last Friday, about 30 student and local activists staged an occupation at a buidling slated for demolition at The New School in New York City.

The protest followed a similar lock-in at The New School in December, a student occupation at NYU in February and the many meetings and rallies that accompanied them.

The rise in radical student protest is encouraging to student activists at Penn who want to see more active and critical involvement on the part of the larger student body around issues of University governance and investment practices.

"I think more Penn students need to acknowledge such tactics as a powerful means for making change. It is really good to know that students at other schools aren't afraid of advanced tactics," said College sophomore Rose Espinola, who is a part of the Student Labor Action Project on campus, SLAP works to raise awareness about what its members call an unsavory relationship between Penn and the hotel corporation HEI.

In the beginning of Friday's occupation, students climbed on top of the building wearing masks, read their demands over a loudspeaker and unfurled a banner that said: "Occupy."

The lock-in lasted six hours before more than 100 police arrived with pepper spray, batons and plastic handcuffs. A confrontation ensued.

Student activists at both The New School and NYU say their discontent stems from the universities' murky investment practices and undemocratic practices that exclude student and faculty voices from university governance.

"Students are not just consumers buying an education," said Drew Thillits, a junior studying philosophy at NYU, who participated in the lock-in on Friday as well as the protest at NYU earlier this year. "We are members of universities that have a huge influence in society, and if we don't take an active role in them it will lead to huge problems, like investing in companies that profit from war or genocide."

Although the protests had a big impact on those involved in New York, many students at Penn were unfamiliar with last Friday's events.

College junior Rachel Squire said she had not heard of the protests. As to whether her voice is well represented in the governance of the University, she said, "I haven't really come across any problems, but then again, I feel like I could be persuaded otherwise."

For the New School student activists, active participation in their institution means getting rid of university President Bob Kerrey.

According to Scott Rider, a member of The New School in Exile, the group that planned Friday's and last December's occupations, Kerrey has refused to allow students and faculty an adequate voice in the management of the school and was an early supporter of the Iraq war.

"We have no idea what the school is invested in. We don't get to know what our tuition money is spent on and 86 percent of the operating budget of U. comes from admission," said Rider, a political science graduate student. "We want the money spent on a library, on academic pursuits, but we don't have a voice."

The group's demands also include the resignation of executive vice president James Murtha as well as Robert Millard, who is the treasurer of the board of trustees and is on the board of directors of L-3 Communications, a defense company with contracts in Iraq.

These complaints were all presented to Kerrey after an occupation of the same university building in December.

For its part, Kerrey's administration says it has met most of the students' demands and that the students active in the protests do not represent the voice of the entire student body.

"President Kerrey has done pretty much everything that they have asked for except resigning and asking Jim Murtha to resign and that is not going to happen," said university spokesperson Caroline Oyama. "He has been working very hard with the student and faculty senate. This is not universal across the whole campus, I might add."

She specifically noted that he has opened new lines of communications with students, including writing a blog where students can directly air their concerns and complaints.

But Friday's events revealed underlying tension felt by some of the student body. Numerous YouTube videos show students screaming as well as a police officer shoving a man to the ground before a group of officers jump on top of him and tie his hands.

One video, issued by the NYPD, shows the students after the confrontation ended, sitting quietly, legs crossed, waiting to be handcuffed and taken to the police station. As the raid went on, angry students gathered on the street to denounce the police, yelling "Shame on you," as well as a string of profanities.

In total, 22 people were arrested, including Thillits from NYU, according to the New School Free Press, the student newspaper at the university. Misdemeanors and a few felonies were handed out, including charges for criminal trespassing, assault, resisting arrest and a handful of second-degree criminal mischief charges.

A number of people were injured throughout the day, including a New School security man whose foot got stuck in the door when the students were closing it to seal off the building.

On Monday, New School's main auditorium was filled with more than 500 people to discuss what happened on Friday as well as to air the grievances that inspired the protest.

And although the protest brought attention to the students' cause, administration officials think it is a set back to progress at the university.

"I don't think it was useful. I actually feel like the protest was an interruption of the progress [we had been making], but nonetheless I understand why they felt the need to take some action," said vice president for communications Nancy Donner.

Rider and the students of New School in Exile disagreed.

"When a small group of people does an action like that, the goal, in many ways, is to make people talk about it, to raise awareness."

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