An Evening with the Lang Student Union: Pizza, Proposals, and Dolly Parton
Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
On Tuesday, Februrary 8th, the Lang Cafe was closed off to students due to a scheduled event that forced everyone in the 11th Street building to take the elevator down one level if they needed to get to the basement. As a result, the Lang Student Union (LSU) had to have its weekly meeting in the tiny, cramped faculty office that houses the student governmental body. This meant I was forced to sit on the floor as I ate my complementary pizza. I listened as a fellow student asked for $970 to host a lecture on Dolly Parton, entitled “Desperately Deconstructing Dolly,” at the university. A written proposal suggested that the event would “open up various aspects of Parton’s mythology in relation to contemporary performance and conceptual art, feminism, psychoanalysis, southern culture, queer identity, and post-human discourses.” The proposal was written by the lecturer himself, even the cost estimate. It passed, by the way.
The Lang Student Union reminds me of that time I ran for class president in the 5th grade and won by a landslide on that timeless platform known as the pizza party (and for the record, I delivered on my promises.) Seriously New Schoolers, if issues like a miserably flawed sexual assault policy and non-existent institutional diversity aren’t enough motivation to care about the way this university is run, then you could at least come help yourself to a slice or two, (I had three), at the next LSU meeting. Give yourself the satisfaction and civic pride that comes with participating in your student government. We all know how highly we value such principles at our institution.
In all seriousness, there were some bright ideas proposed at the meeting. One student asked for $4,000 to rent out the IFC Center on 6th Ave. and hold the first ever “New School Arts Festival” this Spring, which would be built around the theme of “Noir” and feature screenings of classic works of film-noir as well as neo-noir. That proposal was drawn up with the help of professors and administrators. There’s also “Historical Materialism NYC 2011,” which is being held at the New School this year by the Marxian journal “Historical Materialism” and will draw all sorts of intellectuals and scholars to discuss, well, Marxian theory. That proposal asked for funds to film the event and provide food to students and participants.
Whatever merits the various proposals may or may not have had, there was not one single “nay” vote cast during the entire session. Everyone voted yes to everything, yours truly included, because nobody wanted to rain on someone else’s parade. We were enjoying our pizza way too much. You may be asking how this kind of reckless government spending goes unchecked (out of its available semester budget of $40,000, the LSU allocated a sizeable chunk in its first meeting of the new term). Well, a lot of that money will never see the light of day. After proposals have been approved by the LSU, the overlords in administration go through them and see which ones actually benefit the school. So while the “New School Arts Festival” may yet be underway this April, I have a feeling we won’t be seeing a Dolly Parton impersonator strutting across the stage at Tishman Auditorium anytime soon.
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