Lights Out: The New School’s Response to Hurricane Sandy

At 1 p.m. on Tuesday, October 30, Parsons student and William Street resident Courtney Boyer heard a knock on her door. It was her residence advisor; Hurricane Sandy, which had already cut off the building’s power, was flooding the basement. Facilities personnel had tried removing the water with diesel-fueled pumps, but doing so caused the building to reek of fumes. New School housing authorities feared more extensive damage, the R.A. told Boyer. All residents of the dorm, which accommodates New School students as well as several dozen Pace University students, had to evacuate by the end of the afternoon. That same R.A. returned fifteen minutes later; it turned out Boyer and her fellow residents had only 60 minutes to leave the building.

Boyer was one of thousands of New School students forced to cope with the impact of Hurricane Sandy in New York City. As the university shut down for over a week, students, faculty and staff scrambled in the wake of The New School’s largest crisis since September 11, 2001.

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In Sandy’s Wake, Arnhold Hall Lights Up

The scene on Wednesday on Fulton St., just a few blocks away from the Williams Street Residence in Lower Manhattan. (Charlotte Woods)

Three days have passed since Hurricane Sandy knocked out electricity in all of The New School’s student dorms, and most of their academic buildings. In that time, President David Van Zandt has cancelled the rest of the week’s classes; William Street dorm tenants have evacuated their residences; and over 100 of the university’s students have trekked to Arnhold Hall for food, heat, electricity, Internet access and shelter.

The building – located at 55 W. 13th St., between Fifth and Sixth Avenues – remained open since Monday afternoon, just before nearly 25 percent of Consolidated Edison’s New York City customers lost power. Students brought blankets and pillows, as well as electrical items like laptops and chargers. New School facilities director Thomas Whalen said Wednesday that the building is conserving enough generator electricity to maintain power until ConEd restores it.

Continue reading In Sandy’s Wake, Arnhold Hall Lights Up