New York University CORE
The New York University (NYU) chapter of CORE, NYU CORE was the shot heard ‘round the world in terms of the NYC rent strike movement during the mid to late 1960’s.
NYU is located in downtown Manhattan in Greenwich Village. NYU CORE formed September 1961. Like Columbia CORE, it pointed a light at segregated policies in NYU straight out the gate by focusing on discrimination in NYU’s fraternities.
NYU CORE claimed frats and sororities at the university discriminated when it came to race, religion and nationality. The organization responsible for supervising fraternities denied the charges. NYU CORE did find and present evidence directly from the constitution of Delta Phi Epsilon which limited membership based on race and religion.
Like other NYC college chapters at the time, NYU CORE worked hard
in the beginning mostly supporting larger CORE campaigns such as the
Route 40 freedom rides. The campaign took members to Baltimore where they participated in a series
of demonstrations. NYU CORE received special notice in November for picketing
the Maryland governor’s mansion in Annapolis around the clock
for three days.
Other students such as Jeff Kalb, Joel Freedman and Morton Sweet continued participating
in the Route 40 rides up until April of 1962.
NYU CORE appears to have been pretty adept at fund raising. A series of concerts over four days in February, 1962 had jazz giants Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Brown, jr. scheduled to perform as a benefit for the chapter at the Village Gate.
NYU CORE and The NYC Rent Strikes
NYU CORE in February, 1963 began inspection of a number of buildings in the heart of the Lower East Side (LES). This was a section of downtown Manhattan considered a ghetto especially in contrast to NYU’s west side location. Following the CORE Rules of Action, NYU CORE's investigation of conditions found rats, roaches, holes in walls, broken windows, inadequate heat and trash pick up. The tenants were mostly Black and Puerto Rican.
According to the chapter’s research, approximately ‘25 slumlords control and hold over 80% of’ the buildings on the LES. One group of buildings - 203, 205, 207, 209, 211 and 215 on Eldridge street - were all owned by one man, Hyman Kaplowitz. NYU CORE’s investigation discovered that even though he had previously been convicted of violating housing laws forty seven times, he had never been jailed.
NYU CORE attempted to negotiate by notifying the city’s fire,
health and buildings departments, but no action was taken by the landlord
or the city. NYU CORE’s next step was to engage in direct action.
Within days, building inspectors were sent to the Eldridge street
tenements. Kaplowitz agreed to repair them but ultimately nothing was
done. NYU CORE’s pressure did succeed in getting rent reductions,
from 33 1/3% to 50%, for tenants in each of the buildings.