At the end of last year The New School In Exile was the most famous single-campus student activist group in the country. Waging a confrontational campaign against former Senator Bob Kerrey, the New School’s deeply unpopular president, they won concessions from administrators — and major media coverage — by staging an audacious 32-hour occupation of a university building.

As the spring semester got underway, the wind seemed to be at NSIE’s back. In an emergency meeting in February, New School faculty unanimously declared their “strong and continuing … sentiment of no confidence” in Kerrey’s administration. Later that month, NSIE members participated in an NYU sit-in modeled on their own. New York magazine ran a damning portrait of Kerrey as an administrator at sea in the face of an extraordinary student and faculty “insurrection,” and in mid-March an NSIE activist was arrested as he spray-painted “Bye Bob” on the door of Kerrey’s residence.

The spring’s grandest gesture came in the course of the February emergency meeting, when graduate student Geeti Das read a statement from NSIE. The group was calling on Kerrey to resign by April first, she said. “If on that date he has not resigned, we will shut down the functions of the university. We will bring it to a halt.” 

Her ultimatum was was reported by the New York Times, as was the applause it received.

April first was yesterday. Kerrey is still in place, and the New School is still functioning. According to the NSIE itself, yesterday passed “more or less without incident.” The group held a few small events yesterday (about which more below), but they engaged in no direct action, and haven’t announced any follow-up. 

So what happened?

(This is part one of a four-part series. Part two is here and part three is here.)