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Why are New Students at the New School Smoking?

Why are New Students at the New School smoking?

For some first year students at The New School, smoking cigarettes is a social tool. But will the “friends” made while puffing away, stick around for as long as the effects from smoking will? For many students, that relationship has yet to cross their mind.

“I feel like a lot of people here feel like they’ve seen it all and done a lot. There’s an assumption that you’ve seen something,” said Maya, a freshman at Eugene Lang College.

I met Maya in the courtyard. She wore dark sunglasses and smoked a cigarette as she talked among friends. Though Maya has smoked since high school, she says her smoking has increased since coming to Lang from Seattle because her friends at the university smoke. “Pretty much everyone at Lang smokes,” she said. “I come out here (the courtyard) to smoke with friends.”

Like Maya, Lang freshman, Alex and Maizy were also smoking outside. The pair met because they both live in the Stuyvesant Park Residence, the new freshman dormitory on 15th street. At Stuyvesant, the pair agreed that smoking is a social mechanism for meeting other students. “We met because we were smoking and everyone goes outside to smoke,” said Alex. “Outside of our dorm is the place to be.”

Maizy is from Los Angeles and has smoked since high school. She has found making friends to be a challenge because she says freshman are so eager to meet new people that it’s difficult to make sincere connections. Because of the desire to feel included, student who aren’t smokers have begun smoking. “People feel like they have to be out there,” said Maizy. “But than I watch them suffer as they don’t enjoy themselves.”

However, Justine, a Lang sophomore, who has lived in the dorms at Loeb Hall since freshman year, says she doesn’t smoke because she thinks its “gross.” and that she wouldn’t compromise her health to fit into certain social circles. “I’ve never had a cigarette in my life, she said. “I think it’s a social tool.”

Lucky for Justine, students can’t smoke inside the dorms as New School regulations prohibit smoking cigarettes and cigars in all university buildings. But the university’s Code of Conduct says “rooms/suites are designated as non-smoking unless all of the occupants agree to allow smoking. In accordance with both The New School and New York State law, smoking is prohibited in any hallways, stairwells, or other common area space.”

Maizy said she planned to quit smoking when she moved to New York, but has yet to do so because of its social prevalence among the student body. “I was going to quit when I got to college,” said Maizy. “But than I got here and it was woah, explosion of smokers.”

Rent-A-Vet

On countless corners in New York City vendors peddle their wares, offering everything from phone chargers and iPod covers, to art, books and DVDs. To judge by the sheer number of vendors, one might wrongly assume that selling merchandise, and securing space in New York is easy. Not so.

A lottery system in place for all applicants, save for war veterans, means that many are never selected or may even have to wait for over ten years to receive their vending license. A woman selling incense outside of Whole Foods by Union Square described the latter as a common situation. Many who depend on vending as their livelihood have circumvented the system, and have used the veterans’ privileges by renting their licenses, or even them.

“People actually rent the veteran, the veteran becomes a part of your business,” said a vendor on 14th St. between 5th Avenue and University Pl., who asked not to be named. “He might be sitting there, and working with you, or even just sitting there and taking a percent of what you make.”

The vendor explained that because this is illegal, needs like these are not publicized, but word travels through the vending community.  “It is a very disciplined relationship, the veterans find out through word of mouth.”

Art being sold at union Sq. Only art is permitted in the park.

Different licenses are granted to vendors, depending on the nature of their goods. Books, art, and spiritual material can be sold by anyone, and are protected under the First Amendment however, vendors still need to get a Tax ID, and secure a space. For vendors selling general goods, a general vending license referred to by most vendors as the ‘white license’  is needed from City Hall. Often it is vendors who are selling general goods that rent the veterans, and their licenses.

A more specific license, known as the ‘yellow license’ is used to purvey particular goods, and through distinctions such as  ‘Consumer/Cigarette’, vendors holding these licenses are allowed to sell cigarettes and candy.  Surveillance of yellow license holders by city officials is much more stringent, and one such holder explained that his kiosk is visited every three months, without specific notice, and his business is surveyed.

For many who are using a veteran’s general vending license the potential to be visited by city officials, although less structured than those for yellow license holders, is one of the reasons why the veteran often becomes a present member in the business. Some have even complained about the behavior of police in enforcing rules such as table length, and distance from the road. White license holders often have the freedom to move between a designated area, as in the case of my interviewee- who has the freedom to sell anywhere between University Pl., and 7th Avenue.

However, vendors often maintain the same spot said the source, and that there is a kind of “vending etiquette.”

“People in this area [Union Square] will arrive very early to set up, and they even get into fights,” he said. “Some people make friends and help each other out, different blocks function differently.”

None of the vendors approached were comfortable discussing the renting of a veterans license, and none of those approached were willing to share their names.

Spiderman!

Spiderman has forsaken the sights and sounds of Midtown  for the excitement of lower Manhattan. Garbed in a spiderman suit, Shaun, entertainer and rickshaw runner extraordinaire, from Miami, Florida has filled the city with screams and laughter since his arrival to the city. Termed NYC Fun Run, Shaun takes interested New Yorkers for a ride in his rickshaw and jumps up in the air, and runs across the surfaces of buildings and edges of vehicles, much like his fictional counterpart. Using his and the riders’ body weight, Shaun keeps the rickshaw balanced (see highlighted link for visual sense.)

Shaun can often be found in the Lower East Side at St. Marks- for New Schoolers who want a free ride.

(Filming by Billy Kaufman)

Patricio: The Pizza Maker From Ecuador

Dreams Behind Glass

event to cover?

NEWS FROM THE NEW SCHOOL FOR GENERAL STUDIES
CHRIS HEDGES—EMPIRE OF ILLUSION: THE END OF LITERACY AND THE TRIUMPH OF SPECTACLE

Journalist Chris Hedges discusses his recent book Empire of Illusion: the End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle on Tuesday, December 8, at 7:00 p.m., in the Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall, 55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor.
In the book, Hedges charts the dramatic rise of a post-literate society that craves fantasy, ecstasy, and illusion. He argues we now live in two societies: one, the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world and can cope with complexity and can separate illusion from truth; the other, a growing majority, is retreating from a reality-based world into one of false certainty and magic where serious film and theater, as well as newspapers and books, are being pushed to the margins.
Chris Hedges is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, and is currently a senior fellow at the Nation Institute and the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow at Princeton University. He writes for many publications, including Foreign Affairs, Harper’s, the New York Review of Books, Granta, and Mother Jones. He is also a columnist for Truthdig.com.
This free event is co-sponsored by the Writing Program, Department of Media Studies and Film, and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics.

Rethinking Robert Moses

What if New York’s notorious master builder wasn’t such a bad guy after all?