The New School’s “Restructuring” Means Trouble for Students & Staff

Photo credit: The New School Free Press

On October 2, 2020, the New School laid off 122 employees as part of the administration’s restructuring and “reimagining” of the university. Let us be clear: “restructuring” means nothing more than austerity cuts and “streamlining operations” along the lines of a business model. President Dwight A. McBride claimed that there was already a need for “restructuring” prior to the pandemic, but the crisis caused a decrease in enrollment and loss in revenue that forced them into emergency restructuring. Prior to the pandemic, however, fulltime student enrollment was at an all-time high and steadily increasing.

Teamsters Local 1205, which represents a section of New School employees, has asserted that the layoffs were heavy-handed and unnecessary, while the University Student Senate approved a resolution stating that they were “not in good faith.” President McBride tried to assure us that the decisions were made “with input and perspectives from faculty, staff and student leaders,” but the administration refused to recognize or meet with the New School Labor Coalition, which represents over 3,000 unionized university staff. Further, the restructuring was done with the help of Huron Consulting, a third-party management consulting firm which was responsible for mass layoffs at the University of Wisconsin in 2017.

Describing the day the layoffs were announced, a Teamsters representative told us, “It was defeat. Workers who have spent 35+ years at the New School received a package and notice that this was their last week.”

As understaffed departments struggle to keep up, some schools within the university admitted a record number of students this semester. We have all experienced the effects of this—it is evident to anyone who has tried to register for classes or seen the barren course catalog this semester.

What this makes clear is that the interests of students and university employees and workers are intertwined. The school’s contract with Teamsters Local 1205 has expired, and as they gear up for negotiations with a president that is bent on restructuring and austerity, they will need a strong student contingent to support their struggle.

No to austerity! No to layoffs!

Towards a united struggle against this undemocratic and bloated administration which lives like a parasite on our tuition dollars!