Are you taking classes at any of the other 6 New School schools? Would you like to? Why or why not? And what kind of classes would you like to take (can be anything, feel free to make it up)?
“No, I am not but if I did it would be the school of music maybe, I’d like to experiment with that. I’d like to take more experimental classes with less obsessions over materialistic items. I’d also like to take classes that are not about rocket science, like mixed media painting, dark room, exploring museums aka a field trip class, printmaking, film/video art class, performance/installation class, textiles/fabrics, experimental/fine arts fashion class, a class where we just watch good classic movies.”
Dr. Katayoun Chamany
When asked about varying recollections of the New School’s history, Professor Chamany explained that she believes that it is “not only students who don’t have a clear understanding of the history, but faculty as well.” This, she admits, surprises her and leaves her questioning their choice in attending or teaching at the school.
Chamany proceeded to comment on Eugene Lang’s staple “freshman seminar” program, “I think the freshman workshop should be dropped for a course in which students are introduced to faculty from a variety of disciplines…” Chamany tells us that this could be one of many solutions in helping with what she earlier described as the inhibiting nature of the Lang curriculum.
Of people’s perceptions of New School she stated, “most people have not heard of Eugene Lang… New School though, that’s what people know. Typically people ask if Bob Kerrey is still associated… I feel like perceptions of the school fall under his time here, unfortunately.”
Peter’s concludes the interview by explaining that while Eugene Lang College is a school she would recommend to perspective high school graduates, she would be weary to recommend it to just anyone. “The school is not for everyone,” she said boldly.
The building Lang students are situated in feels relaxing to her. There are not many places to really relax and hang out with other students. At 66 West 12th Street, there is the cafeteria, the courtyard, and in particular, the auditorium. It is natural that students from all the schools gather here. According to Ashley, it’s a well-designed auditorium and she was amazed to find out when it was built; she thought it was more modern than that. She had the same reaction to the age of the building. She felt that the new building built on 65 5th Avenue had the same vibe and therefore thought they were not that far apart in age.
Perhaps in the school’s pursuit to go forward, the past has been left behind. The school was founded on the ideas that the curriculum is relevant to the times, taught by faculty working in the field, offering programs other schools have not yet thought to teach, and that education can change the world for the better. Many students do not know what the school has done; only what the school is doing and will do, Ashley being one of them. The divisions within the school seem to be separate worlds and students refer to themselves from which division they’re in (especially if they’re from a pre-existing school that combined with the New School); Parsons students are not students who attend the New School but students who attend Parsons. It seems to be that they will belong to Parsons and others will belong to Lang or Mannes; it’s a sense of “us and them” — even if they belong to the same entity.
The most interesting thing that Alan Reingold pointed out was that the new University Center that is under construction is already the symbol of the New School as a whole. Previously, the schools were represented by their own respective buildings. Parsons’ sleek lobby of 2 West 13 and its Midtown fashion building were the epitome of school’s design culture. The 12th Street building is a landmark as one of New York’s first modern buildings, but has lost its valor to time and become the humble backdrop for the majority of NSPE and its intellectual pursuits. The 12th Street building had represented the entirety of the New School for decades. But as more and more schools were created and combined, there has been a sense that the metaphorical ties were barely holding it together. By combining all the schools under one image in the new building, there is hope now that the New School will be seen as one entity.
Dr. Arien Mack
“I think we have to think about the assets that make the school different. I think as far as our division is concerned, one of the things it offered traditionally, and still does to some extent, is the fact that you could come to a department, say our Psych department, and you didn’t have to have been a psych major as a undergraduate. Which is good because if you messed up as an undergraduate for whatever reason and were a smart and capable student but your grades did not reflect that: you could get a second chance. And if you could do well in the masters program, you had a real chance of getting a PhD. I think that is very special here. We take non-psych majors, fashion majors, English majors, whatever, and they have done well here. So I think that is very special.”