Skip to main content

Chris Crews New School student activism collection

Identifier: NA-0023-01


This collection documenting student activism at The New School and in New York City was compiled and created by Chris G. Crews, political scientist, activist, and New School graduate student between 2008 and 2019. The collection consists of video recordings and photographs of protests, town halls, meetings, workshops, and conferences, as well as documentation of various student-led, grassroot, and activist actions at The New School, and documents associated with Crews's work on various New School committees and initiatives. Also includes several of Crews’s writings on student activism.


  • 1977-2019
  • Majority of material found within 2008-2019



114 Gigabytes (915 digital files. Formats include jpg, pdf, doc and docx, mpg, mp4, avi, xlsx, wmv, mts, txt, ppt, mp3, xis, mp4, png, mov, rtf, tif.)

21 minidv

Language of Materials


Content Description

This collection consists of born-digital files and MiniDV video cassettes related to social justice and activism, mostly at The New School. The files were compiled and in many cases created by Chris G. Crews, political scientist, activist, and student of The New School for Social Research, largely dating between 2008 and 2019. The majority of the collection consists of video recordings and photographs of protests, workshops, town halls, meetings, interviews, and conferences taking place in and around The New School. Most pertain to New School-specific initiatives and actions, although a number of events around New York City documenting other issues are covered here, as well, such as recordings of actions that took place during the Occupy Wall Street Movement in 2011. In addition to the videos and photographs, the collection includes meeting minutes, promotional literature such as pamphlets and fliers, and other documents related to various student-led, grassroot, and activist actions at The New School. The collection also consists of material connected to the work of institutional committees and initiatives that Crews organized or was a member of, as well as Crews's writings, both published and written for classes and those released as public statements, on student activism. File formats include: avi, csv, doc, docx, jpg, mov, mp3, mp4, mpg, mts, pdf, png, ppt, rtf, tif, txt, wmv, and xlsx.

The collection is organized into three series.

Series 1. New School campus activism video and photograph archive consists of material related to campus activism and primarily includes photographs and video recordings of protests, town halls, meetings, and conferences. While most of the videos date from 2008-2018, also included is a 1997 documentary by filmmaker Laura Poitras made when she was a student at The New School, narrating the events surrounding a movement of activism at the university called Mobilization for Real Diversity, Democracy, and Economic Justice. Many of the videos include credits for Crews's production company, Revolutionary Visions Media Production, often shortened to rv media / media for social change.

Series 2. New School campus activism documentation includes mainly text-based material associated with many of the events in the recordings and photographs in Series 1. Documents range from promotional literature to meeting minutes and reports.

Series 3. New School institutional history includes files related to New School committees and initiatives that Crews started and/or participated in at The New School, such as the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility (ACIR) and the Social Justice Committee.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use. Researchers must use digital access copies. A single pdf file in Series 3 is restricted until 2063, 50 years from the time it was created.

Biographical Note

Chris G. Crews (born 1977), political scientist and activist, graduated from Ohio University with a BA in specialized studies (2000), an MA in political science (2007), and a Graduate Certificate in women’s studies (2007). He earned his second MA (2010) and PhD (2019) in political science from The New School. The title of his dissertation is “Social Movements and Earthbound People: Towards a New Politics of the Earth in the Anthropocene.”

Coming from a political activist background at Ohio University, Crews got involved in student activism at The New School in his first year of studies, in 2008. Closely collaborating with the Radical Student Union—a Eugene Lang College-based grassroots organization—he was an organizer and active participant in the 30-hour student occupation of the university’s 65 Fifth Avenue building on December 18, 2008, which started after the December 10 vote of no-confidence in President Bob Kerrey by the senior faculty of the university. As the occupation, which attracted several hundred students both from The New School and other universities, began, “The New School in Exile” was formed, its name invoking the 1933 founding of the University in Exile at The New School (which became the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science and was later renamed the New School for Social Research). Crews became an active participant and media liaison of the group.

The members of the New School in Exile demanded the resignation of New School president Bob Kerrey, executive vice-president Jim Murtha, and board of trustee member Robert Millard. Bob Kerrey, a former governor of Nebraska, former United States senator, and a Vietnam War veteran, became the president of the school in 2001, and his presidency marked large-scale, top-down structural reforms at The New School, characterized by a new emphasis on financial investment that, according to Kerrey's critics, paid little regard to the traditional involvement of faculty and student voices. Kerry also came under scrutiny for his involvement in a controversial raid during the Vietnam War that resulted in the murder of women and children.

Crews's experience with the 2008 occupation prompted him to become more involved in the institutional politics of the university. He successfully ran to become a member of the University Student Senate (USS) in 2009, and served as a member of the USS until 2012, including a brief period as vice-president, when he was instrumental in the restructuring of the senate, shifting it from a president/vice president leadership model to co-chairs of three. Crews was also a student co-chair of the Social Justice Committee, comprised of student, faculty and administrator members, in the early 2010s.

The Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility (ACIR) was founded at The New School in 2009 as a direct result of students’ demand for greater transparency regarding the university’s endowment and investments. Crews became one of the first student members of the ACIR, serving in this position until 2014. ACIR’s role was to develop strategies and present recommendations for “incorporating consideration of social, environmental, and corporate governance issues into the management of The New School's investments.” The faculty, staff, student and trustee members of the committee, nominated by the respective university senates, directly advised the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees.

In the fall of 2011, as the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement was gaining momentum in New York City, Crews joined the occupiers of the New School study space at 90 Fifth Avenue and organized teach-ins, sit-ins, meetings and negotiations with administrators. He followed the occupation through until it was dispersed due to internal tensions and lack of support from the student body.

Around 2011, Crews joined the Nomadic University, formed to carry on the spirit of the OWS movement. The group, consisting of New School faculty and students together with participants from other schools, began to organize meetings and teach-ins around the city, working on the idea of a radical, nomadic, and free university that anyone could attend, anywhere, and that would organize education around creative, critical and radical ideas.

Although Crews was not among the main organizers of the unionization efforts of student workers at The New School that began in 2014, he actively participated in the meetings, rallies, occupations and strike that led to the official vote for and formation of SENS-UAW (Student Employees of The New School-United Auto Workers) in 2017, and the successful negotiations with the university administration for the labor contract in 2018.

While teaching in several different higher education institutions in the greater New York Metro area (Seton Hall, Fordham University), Crews also taught a class on Indigenous Environmental Politics at The New School, and was a research fellow of the India China Institute between 2012 and 2018. In 2011, he was awarded the Chiune Sugihara PhD Fellowship, and in 2013 the Eberstadt Dissertation Fellowship of The New School for Social Research. In 2014, he received the Social Justice Campus Champion Award.

After graduating from The New School in 2019, Crews went on to teach as a visiting professor and lecturer at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, California State University Chico, and, as of 2022, at Denison University in Granville, Ohio.


Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility of The New School. “Annual Reports.” Accessed January 24, 2022.

Denison University. “CV - Chris G. Crews.” Accessed January 24, 2022.

Crews, Chris G. “Activism at The New School Oral History Program.” Interview by Anna Robinson-Sweet. The New School Archives and Special Collections, March 5, 2020. Audio, 01:08:51.

Gardiner, Aidan. “Student Senate Investigated by Administration.” New School Free Press, December 7, 2009.

The New School in Exile Blog. “The Brian Lehrer Show / December 19, 2008 / Follow Up Friday: New School Occupation.” Accessed January 24, 2022.

The New School in Exile Blog. “The New School in Exile.” Accessed January 24, 2022.

Schwartz, Mattathias. “Pre-Occupied The origins and future of Occupy Wall Street.” New Yorker, November 20, 2011.

Van Zandt, David E. email communication by The New School President to the school, November 22, 2011.

Vistica, Gregory L. “One Awful Night in Thanh Phong.” New York Times, April 25, 2001.


The collection is organized into three series: 1. New School campus activism video and photograph archive; 2. New School campus activism documentation; 3. New School institutional history.

The inventory in this finding aid is arranged in an order that closely matches digital folders on the server when sorted alphabetically by folder title.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Physical and born-digital materials donated by Chris Crews in two installments, 2019 and 2020. The digital files were transferred from Google Drive.

Related Materials

The New School Archives holds an oral history interview with Chris Crews as part of the Activism at The New School oral history program (NS.07.01.04). Other interviews in that collection document earlier moments of activism at The New School. Other collections documenting moments of student activism include the New School student activism collection (NS.05.04.01), Jo Townson collection of Mobilization papers (NA.0021.01), Mark Schmidt collection of Mobilization materials (NA.0020.01), and Ann Snitow faculty records (NS.02.08.01).

Processing Information

In processing this collection, New School Archives staff followed the general organizational structure of files as they were at the time that Chris Crews transferred them to The New School Archives. In some cases, archives staff created subfolders or transferred files from one folder into another in order to identify duplication or to bring together files that document the same event, organizational unit, or topic. In instances where duplication of files was identified (oftentimes filenames differed but content was identical) only one of the files was retained. However, it is likely that not all duplicates have been identified, so researchers may encounter duplicate files within the collection. Researchers interested in viewing the original file structure and content should contact

In some cases, filenames have been shortened, to conform with digital preservation standards, but remain close to their original titles. Note that filenames frequently use abbreviations. Common abbreviations include: DSA = Democratic Socialists of America; GF = Graduate Faculty; n17 = November 17; NSIE = New School in Exile; OWS = Occupy Wall Street; RSU = Radical Student Union; TNS = The New School; and USS = University Student Senate.

The inventory in this finding aid is arranged in an order that closely matches digital folders on the server when sorted alphabetically by folder title.

Most of the files transferred from Chris Crews's Google Drive retain their creation date. However, files with a date of creation 11/12/20, 11/13/20, or later represent folders or files that did not initially transfer because there were no contents in Google Drive, had duplicate file names, or were unzipped or transformed into readable form after transfer. Google forms also did not transfer, so these were saved separately as PDF files and will have a creation date of 11/13/20.

The archivists have deaccessioned several files related to the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility (ACIR) because the files were marked Confidential and the archives did not receive guidance from ACIR or Crews about when the materials could be made public.

Guide to the Chris Crews New School student activism collection
Agnes Szanyi, Jack Wells, and New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
December 22, 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description