Long before Stonewall, drag queens were fighting the good fight to live, look, and perform as they wanted in New York City, back when cross-dressing was still illegal. Flawless Sabrina was among the scene’s founders, and with decades of activism and arrests under her garter belt, she’s earned herself the title “den mother of NYC drag.” Tonight she’ll tell her story to performance artist Karen Finley as part of NYU’s Cross-Tisch lecture series.

Fri., Nov. 14, 5 p.m., 2014


Kenneth G. Langone, Controversial NYU Trustee and Citizens United Provocateur, Is Major Lhota Backer

On January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court decided that corporations were people, too. The Citizens United ruling unleashed a new wave of influence in American elections; one that still has modern democracy reeling, as the last presidential election witnessed billions of dollars coming in from all over the country. Mega-millionaire Kenneth G. Langone, 78, was (and still is) at this frontline of legal corporatism, and his ties are everywhere, including NYU’s much-talked-about loan compensation program and the wallet of the Republican frontrunner for City Hall, Joe Lhota.

For background, Langone made his fortunes as a market-savvy investor, now a holder of some $1.1 billion in assets. He did so by putting tons of capital into a little company he founded known as Home Depot, which eventually made him millions in the hardware business. He helped former Independent presidential candidate Ross Perot’s data company go public and now sits on as a director on the Board of Yum! Brands–the largest restaurant chain in the world (read: KFC, Taco Bell, etc.).

If you’re a New Yorker, you might’ve heard his name before: NYU’s Langone Medical Center and its Stern School of Business’s Langone Part-Time MBA carry the investor’s namesake, as he was a graduate student there after attending Bucknell University down in Pennsylvania. That was the reward after he gave NYU’s medical center a whopping $200 million donation in 2008–the largest contribution in the center’s history. His unrestricted donation is now being used by the school to build a new, green hospital, just months after the Langone Medical Center famously saved hundreds of patients during Hurricane Sandy (one of whom was the benefactor himself, who was undergoing pneumonia treatment).

With this type of profile at the school, Langone was given the vice co-chair position on the university’s board of trustees (as well as the Medical Center’s); on its site, the governing body states that it’s “responsible for, among other things, creating policy, setting mission and purpose, strategic planning, reviewing programs, and relating campus to community and community to campus.” However, the “other things” are what’s important here: The board of trustees is also responsible for numerous controversial moves on behalf of the administration, spurring no confidence votes in President John Sexton across the different sub-schools.

It was the Board of Trustees who raised Sexton’s income to $1.5 million and gave him a $2.5 million bonus for his “length of service.” And the millions upon millions of eventually-forgiven loans for the professorial staff’s ritzy condos here and out east that we reported on last week? The board’s compensation committee. The foundation responsible for collecting these exorbitant funds in light of even more exorbitant tuition is their job.

Exhibit A: Robert Grossman, the medical center’s dean and CEO. He’s now given an annual paycheck of nearly $3.5 million and resides in a $6.15 million condo, guaranteed and paid for by the university. As we mentioned last week, an NYU student’s tuition is nearing $45,000, not including room and board.

(The Voice has reached out to NYU for comment on Langone’s involvement with the loan compensation program and is waiting to hear back).

Langone is no stranger to overpayment, though. In the early 2000s, he was the president of the New York Stock Exchange and at the center of a huge lawsuit by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. According to the case, Langone was in charge with secretly authorizing a pay package worth $190 million for Richard Grasso, fellow NYSE chairman and NYU trustee, without telling the financial institution’s board. As a non-governmental organization, this salary for an administrator is virtually impossible, which was the main point of Spitzer’s argument. Langone defended the pay package for years, resulting in this wonderful quote he gave to Forbes in 2004:

“They got the wrong fucking guy. I’m nuts, I’m rich, and boy, do I love a fight. I’m going to make them shit in their pants. When I get through with these fucking captains of industry, they’re going to wish they were in a Cuisinart–at high speed. If Grasso gives back a fucking nickel, I’ll never talk to him again.”

The case was dismissed in 2008 on the grounds that the New York Stock Exchange had, by that point, become a for-profit entity. So, now that we have the collegiate-meets-Wall-Street connection down pat, let us move on to politics.

A few weeks after the decision came down for Citizens United, American Action Network was created to foster the new freedoms the case brought for corporate contributions: Its mission statement includes the intention “to put our center-right ideas into action by engaging the hearts and minds of the American people and spurring them into active participation in our democracy.” The ANA funds Tea Party ads and anti-Democratic campaigns, and opens its treasures chests to all sorts of corporate dollars. Langone remains a main donor to the quasi-SuperPAC, as well as an accomplice to the Koch brothers’ inner circles, but tangled money with politics way before it was officially legal.

In the lead-up to the 2000 presidential election, Langone co-founded a company called ChoicePoint, Inc., which bought Database Technologies–another company of his–for $4 million. Its contract entailed a list of ineligible list of voters in (who would’ve guessed?) Florida, a majority of whom were minorities and Democrats. It was later reported that the company erred with categorizing numerous voters as felons before Election Day, deactivating their right to a vote in a contest with a 537-ballot margin of victory.

“In a tough fight, Kenneth G. Langone is a guy you want in your corner,” Landon Thomas Jr. of the New York Times once wrote. As an outspoken Republican donor, Langone has had his financial hands in the last major GOP wins in New York. He was a major foundation of Carl Paladino’s run against Cuomo in 2010. And he bundled a ton of corporate cash for Rudy Giuliani’s mayoral campaigns throughout the ’90s. That naturally leads us to the final point.

As CEO of his own company, Invemed Associates, Inc., Langone has made the City Hall run of Rudy’s former right-hand man and protege, Joe Lhota, his newest political investment. In the frontrunner’s campaign finance disclosures, Langone and his wife, Elaine, donated a combined $9,900 to Lhota in the first part of the election cycle. He’s already been listed as one of Lhota’s main business world backers and, if Giuliani’s campaigns were indicative of anything, that position will soon be smothered in dollar signs, weaving a web between Wall Street, Washington, NYU and a man that could one day be your mayor.



NYU is Handing Out Loans for Professors’ Beach Houses. Do Other Colleges Do That Too?

High-cost, low-interest loans from NYU are the hottest commodities on the market these days. On a city level, they’ve been used (and eventually forgiven by the school) across Manhattan to pay for profiled professors’ lofts or condos. On a national level, they’ve made their way into the Senate, with Senator Chuck Grassley grilling Treasury Secretary Jack Lew for accepting one when he was an NYU professor. And, on a world level, they’re the subject of serious backlash in relation to the school’s expansion here and abroad. Now, it looks like the loans have gone coastal.

Yesterday, the New York Times published a piece detailing the beach houses of “star” NYU educators in the Hampton Bays and elsewhere. Needless to say, the extravagance isn’t taken lightly.

President John Sexton’s Fire Island digs? The result of a $1 million loan. NYU Law professor Richard Revesz’s 65-acre crib on the Housatonic? Along with his NYU-financed West Village spot, a $5.7 million loan. And executive VP Martin Dorph’s Pennsylvania pad? A $200,000 loan on a property he already owned.

In addition to the aforementioned names, the NYT reports that “at least five medical or law school faculty members at N.Y.U. have received loans on properties in the Hamptons or Fire Island,” according to Suffolk County records. Usually, these loans are steam-fitted in the educators’ interests (i.e. no collateral, below-market rates or none whatsoever, the works). So it’s basically a win-win for everyone but the students. So we’ll just leave this here: The “private school in the public sphere” now charges about $42,000 a semester, and that doesn’t include room, board, or New York City.

Albeit controversial, the practice of an administration handing out loans for its professors is all too common in the collegiate world. The decision-makers at Boston University, Harvard, Pepperdine and other prestigious institutions are known to engage in it as well. For example, at Carnegie Mellon University, it was reported that one professor received upwards of $350,000 for a violin he wanted. Must’ve been a damn fine violin.

When the first reports of professors’ loan-paid apartments here in the Big Apple came out, the NYU administration took to the defense, arguing that these high-rises were necessary to draw in the higher-education talent the school prides itself on, leading one to believe the school either has a way-too-needy applicant pool for its professors or the inability to say “no.”

And still, that seems to be the case. In a statement to the Voice, NYU spokesperson John Beckman had this to say:

“Our loan programs are a vitally important element in recruiting and retaining top scholars to NYU, and a sound investment in NYU’s future. And judging by the outstanding quality of the faculty we’ve attracted, it’s been a success. … The loan programs enable us to attract world-class faculty, to offer housing to more faculty, and–for most of our loans–to earn a return for the University, secured against real property.”

The universal use of loan compensation was also addressed. “I know Columbia does,” he told me. “I think a good number of major research universities have loan programs to address housing as part of recruitment.”

Beckman then followed suit with a rundown of NYU’s accomplishments over the past 10 years, including a 130 percent increase in financial aid, improved graduation rates, a 45 percent rise in applications and the hiring of more professors. (Unfortunately, the insane jump in tuition or the fact that NYU has the highest student debt in the nation–an amount now higher than 12 countries’ GDP–did not make the list.)

The revelations over loans, tuition-versus-tangible disparities, and NYU 2031, the behemoth expansion plan abhorred by a thin majority of professors, have birthed substantial outrage towards the administration here in the Village (“a rebellion from within,” as former Voice scribe Nick Pinto called it). Sexton did not comment on the accusations presented by Times‘ story but, on the same day of publication, he sent out an email to the student body, praising the merger of NYU with its engineering school in Downtown Brooklyn, NYU-Poly.

As of this date, the faculties from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Tisch School for the Performing Arts, the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, and the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development have all voted no confidence in President John Sexton’s leadership–a non-enforcing gesture that implies distrust with the school’s executive body as a whole.

It remains to be seen what will happen once the students return from their summer vacations in September. Or when Sexton returns from out east.


Expansion Questions Arise Over NYU’s Dismissal of Chinese Dissident Chen Guangcheng

Last year, Chen Guangcheng arrived in New York to take a teaching position at New York University. He’d just escaped house arrest in his native country of China after being prosecuted for representing thousands of women in a class-action lawsuit against the Communist government. Now, more than a year later, the university has let the renowned dissident and self-made lawyer go, leading many to point fingers of blame at the school’s PR coup de grace: worldwide expansion.

The news of Guangcheng’s dismissal first came yesterday in the New York Post, with an “exclusive” report titled “NYU booting blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng amid Shanghai expansion: sources.” According to the piece, NYU let Guangcheng go amid pressure from the Chinese government, an entity the university needed to sign off on its “portal campus” in Shanghai. And it mentions that the dissident’s announcement to visit Taiwan soon was the nail in the coffin for Chinese-NYU relations.

Started in 2007, the Shanghai location is one of three portal campuses controlled by NYU (the other two are in Abu Dhabi and, of course, here in New York). Along with 12 other programs stretched far and wide across Europe, Africa, and South America, this web of academia represents the Global Network University (GNU), an international program at the center of controversy for no-confidence-voting professors, a situation detailed in full length by former Voice scribe Nick Pinto’s February cover story.

The anonymous sources in the Post story provide serious accusations to the consequences of the school’s policy. Except there’s not much substance to work with. To counteract, NYU spokesperson John Beckman argued in a statement to the Voice and other outlets that the lack of foundation in the Post‘s reporting is found in the timeline of events that took place here and abroad:

The story’s claims of ‘outside pressure’ are fanciful and false. If it were true, why would NYU have taken Mr. Chen in at the height of the public fervor, and why would the Chinese authorities have given us permissions to move forward with our Shanghai campus AFTER his arrival here?

NYU Shanghai has been in the works for some time now, creating a numerous amount of encounters between the Chinese government and the NYU administration since Guangcheng’s inception in March 2012. Did the Taiwanese visit announcement by the dissident really force the government to put pressure on NYU to release him even after months of deliberation?

Beckman’s statement continued:

The plain fact is that these are unrelated matters. In countless hours of conversations involving the establishment of our Shanghai campus, this matter has never come up.”We were pleased to offer Mr. Chen and his family a place to come and study and support his transition to the US when he first left China based on a pre-existing relationship he had with scholars here. But NYU and Mr. Chen had discussions beginning last fall that NYU could not support him indefinitely.

Jerome Cohen, an NYU law professor and expert in Asian studies, was one of the main forces behind Guangcheng’s diplomatic transfer from the U.S. Chinese embassy to NYU. He argued that he “never heard a word from anyone, including Chinese diplomats, about the Chinese Government putting pressure on NYU to terminate the Chens’ visit.” And, for him, the dissident’s dismissal was part of the plan.

“My understanding with the Chens was that NYU could guarantee him one year in order to get their feet on the ground and transition to a more permanent position,” Cohen said in a statement obtained by the Voice. “We could not see beyond one year at that point, but I have always made clear, and the University authorities agreed, that our US-Asia Law Institute would allow him to stay beyond one year until a better, more permanent, opportunity arose.”

According to the Post, Guangcheng is currently seeking a position at Fordham Law and those talks are “still ongoing.” Hopefully, the politics there are a little less hectic.


NYU Silver School of Social Work Advances No Confidence Vote on NYU Prez John Sexton

It’s been a rough semester for the NYU chieftain.

The tensions between the school’s faculty and president John Sexton over the NYU 2031 expansion plans and decision-making procedures has reached a boiling point. The story was depicted in full with our profile by Nick Pinto two months ago on the Washington Square drama. Soon enough, and in true parliamentarian fashion, the faculty of College Arts and Science voted no confidence in John Sexton, leaving the rest of NYU’s individual schools to make up their minds on the ongoing controversy. Aside from that, the school’s clerical workers have also advanced a no confidence vote.

But, on Monday night, the first academic move since has been made, this time by the NYU Silver School of Social Work. In a 16-12 split with 9 abstaining, the Silver faculty, made of 52 full-time professors, decided to hold a no confidence vote on Sexton in coming weeks.

The group known as Faculty Against Sexton’s Plan (or FASP) was the first to report on the motion, shooting out emails to staff and student publications alike. In response, administrative spokesperson John Beckman had this to say to the university blog, NYU Local:

“The University administration has been and will continue to work closely with faculty members in the School of Social Work to understand and respond to their concerns. We have taken important strides to ensure faculty involvement in NYU’s decision-making, and will continue to do so. John Sexton will continue to meet with and talk with faculty as he has all along, and will continue to pursue a thoughtful exchange of ideas on how to build on NYU’s success.”

Looks like this drama is only getting started.


No Confidence Vote For NYU Prez John Sexton Ends Today, Results To Be Announced Shortly

It’s been quite the newsworthy week for NYU.

Since Monday, President John Sexton has undergone a no confidence vote by the faculty at the University. This comes after the New York Times ran a piece detailing the inner drama of the school’s hierarchy, as well as Sexton’s complex personality as a charmer and provocateur. And, of course, fellow Voice scribe Nick Pinto had his in-depth report a few weeks ago that dove into the battle over the school’s global presence and here at home with NYU 2031 – an expansion plan that has West Villagers up in arms.

Well, today, the no confidence vote will come to an end.

The faculty is expected to announce the results some time this afternoon. That result will determine what the faculty has to say about their leader’s term in office and NYU as a whole. The decision could have enormous consequences for the world-renowned University and, as the Times and Pinto pointed out, higher education as a whole.

The Voice will have the updates here.


NYU As Parliament: Professors To Hold A No-Confidence Vote Against Pres. John Sexton

Unlike federalism, Parliamentary systems have this strange dose of symbolic gestures that underlie the relationship between the legislature and the executive. An example of this is the no-confidence vote: if Parliament is fed up with the Prime Minister’s actions, its members can hold this vote that is basically a tallied ‘We don’t like you anymore. Please leave.’ However, the Prime Minister doesn’t have to, which is where it differentiates from the Presidential system. It’s like a half-assed impeachment, if you will.

The bureaucratic structure of New York University follows this Parliamentary system. Instead of a Prime Minister, it has President John Sexton and, instead of MPs, it has a voting body of professors divided by school. The two parties work in conjunction with each other to make decisions for the University’s procedures and plans. Or so the professors thought.
As we have reported in the past, John Sexton’s NYU 2031 plan – a massive expansion project that will drastically increase the size and influence of NYU in the West Village – has come under much scrutiny from not only the residents of the neighborhood but, also, the professors at the school. So, in true Parliamentary spirit, the voting body of the School of Arts and Science (the faculty Senators Council) met last night to debate whether or not a no-confidence vote on Mr. Sexton was needed and if the body even had the authority to do so. And, according to the New York Post, the decision has been made.
The possible vote will be a first in the school’s history. Things just got real.
Mr. Sexton has been the President of NYU for the past eleven years. Under his watch, the school has expanded on an unprecedented scale: ten study abroad sites have been added (most notably its site in Abu Dhabi), tons of new professors have joined the staff, the admissions rate has skyrocketed, the University’s real estate holdings continue to pile up and the Polytechnic Institute in Downtown Brooklyn became a sister school. For contrasting purposes, as our fellow scribe Nick Pinto once wrote, the cost of going to this place has never been higher – the tuition for 2012, without room, board or some sort of financial aid, clocks in somewhere around $20,500 a semester. 
And the most enduring part of Mr. Sexton’s dream to put the University on an Ivy League platform is the NYU 2031 plan.
In total, 38 academic departments have come out in opposition and organized this vitriol towards their boss in an open letter penned this past summer. Professors have voiced concerns over the project for many months now, arguing that Mr. Sexton has maneuvered his way around the professors’ voting bodies by not consulting with them until after decisions have already been made. Also, they cite the President’s insistence to send professors to study abroad projects (once again, most notably Abu Dhabi) that lack academic freedom.
With that being said, the no-confidence vote is a culmination of these general sentiments: that Mr. Sexton has distanced himself from his constituencies and has past the boiling point of civility. But, as mentioned before, Mr. Sexton doesn’t necessarily have to give a shit about the no-confidence vote – it is a gesture of discontent and nothing more. But, as old Obama adviser Lawrence Summers of Harvard University once proved, the vote can lead to resignation.
We’ll keep you updated on the progress of this Violet drama. Because it doesn’t look like it’s ending anytime soon.

Questlove: Your Favorite Twitterer’s Favorite Music Snob… And NYU Professor?

Questlove, Questo, ?uestlove, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon band member, and, most importantly, the fiery drums behind the genre-defining group, the Roots. Questlove has made a name for himself with all the attributes listed and much, much more (if his 2 million plus followers on Twitter are any indication), but he has never been referred to as Professor Questlove. That’s about to change next semester at NYU.

According to Billboard, the Roots drummer will be taking up a spring position in the Clive Davis School for Recorded Music at NYU’s famously celebrity-clad Tisch School for the Performing Arts. The class? Classic Albums, in which Questlove will co-teach with Grammy-winning producer Harry Weinger young music students what makes an album classic and why those albums live on for generations. Or a seminar where Questlove talks about the dopest albums ever made (Beastie Boys, Michael Jackson, and Led Zeppelin included).
The registration for this is going to be like a Walmart opening on Black Friday.
The idea came into fruition a few months ago when the 2012 Pop Conference was held at NYU. Weinger interviewed Questlove about re-releases and other trends in the changing music industry. Someone must’ve mentioned Michael Jackson’s Bad to these two, and then the magic started to happen.
Questlove will be heading into a department where this kind of thing is normal, though. Clive Davis has a reputation for acquiring the music makers of the day: Swiss Beatz was its artist-in-residence for some time, Stevie Wonder showed up to a class that Weinger taught and dedicated to Wonder’s music, and a handful of other music aficionados fill the ranks of the school. At almost $60,000 a year per student, you can do a lot with all that money.

And it looks like Questlove is already attuning to his new title:

What was that about NYU 2031?

Q&A With Hillary Dworkoski, NYU’s Anti-Chick-fil-A Provocateur

When Hillary Dworkoski traveled from her home state of California to the bustling Big Apple for her first semester at New York University last year, she had never heard about chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. ‘Chick-fil-A’ was not in her vocabulary; neither was ‘civic activism’ or ‘Dan Cathy.’ She was an unknowing freshman in the Gallantin School for Individualized Studies, enjoying the wonders of living in New York along with the rest of NYU’s Class of 2015.

Fast forward a few months. Hillary begins passing around a petition on that calls for the end to Chick-fil-A’s existence on the NYU campus. Somehow, the young freshman has found herself, along with a handful of other students, leading a University-wide protest against the organization for their reported donations to groups that opposed same-sex marriages.

But, after a Student Senate vote abstained the University from getting involved, the protests dulled for some time. Until the rest of the country began catching up with the protestors: with Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum standing behind President Dan Cathy’s statements in defense of ‘traditional marriage,’ lines are being drawn on both the city and national level over the fast food establishment that is only closed on the Sabbath.

Although she is transferring to Los Angeles’s Loyola Marymount University this fall, Hillary is taking the fight back home with her. As we speak, the sophomore is busy organizing a protest at a Chick-fil-A spot in West Hollywood; one that was overtaken by LGBT activists on the designated ‘National Kiss-In Day’ last week. In her mind, this has only just begun.

The Voice spoke with Ms. Dworkoski to ask what’s next.

So when was this breakthrough moment in your freshman year, when you realized something had to be done about Chick-fil-A?

I don’t remember exactly. I had heard from my classmates, “Oh, Chick-fil-A’s bad, don’t eat there.” It was kind of out of curiosity that I looked it up so that’s where I read an article about the donations, which led to the petition on I felt that, since Chick-fil-A was already in NYU’s system, it was the system that had to change. And that was the only way.

Had you had any experience in protest before this or was this your first step into civic activism?

I’d actually never been involved in anything like this before. I came to NYU because I wanted to come to a very tolerant campus. And, at first, only I wanted was for people to know about it and that’s all. I had no idea it was going to get this big.

In regards to the actual technicalities of it, like Chick-fil-A as an establishment, what do you think NYU or any city for that matter has the right to kick them out? Does homophobia as an ideology disqualify the privacy of a business?

Yeah, definitely. Alot of people have said that to me, like “Don’t you think it’s their right to have these opinions as a business?” The opinion argument only goes so far because there’s a difference between love and hate. And Chick-fil-A is a hateful organization. I don’t think a business has the right to discriminate against a certain sect of the students.

Now, with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg getting involved, how do you feel about it becoming a political issue in the City?

I’ve actually been in touch with a few people at the City Council. I might meet with them when I come to New York. I think that it’s important that they know we’re not going to stand for this kind of hateful attitude anymore.

Last week, Jesse Bering at Slate wrote, “Let August 1st, 2012, go down as a day of infamy and national disgrace. On that day, at-risk gay youth all over this country watched as an endless, self-righteous trail of Americans wrapped itself round and round Chick-Fil-A franchises across the land.” When you turned on the news last week and saw ‘Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day’ and all of these people coming out in swarms to support it, what were your first thoughts?

You know, there is not one opposing side and people have different feelings to this. But I definitely think taking pride in Chick-fil-A is… I’m not sure if self-righteous is the right word. I think it’s sad that these people are so proud to stand by that company… really sad.

Well, now you have all these mayors coming out against the organization – the Mayor of San Francisco tweeted that Chick-fil-A shouldn’t dare come near the city and the Mayor of Boston wrote a letter saying something very similar. Do you think all these mayors coming out is a positive step for the movement?

Yeah, definitely. While people argue that Chick-fil-A has the right of enterprise anywhere, the fact that these mayors are coming out to defend the LBGT communities of their cities is enormous for the cause.

The thing about the Chick-fil-A controversy is that it goes much more beyond the organization as a whole. Regardless of the chicken sandwiches and Dan Cathy, the basic question here is ‘Can a business practice this?’ It boils down to whether this is a human rights violation and if a business can have this ‘hateful’ ideology, as you mentioned before. Do you think that this is the only beginning of this discussion?

Definitely. The other day, there was an activist-led ‘Starbucks Appreciation Day’ because Starbucks respects the LGBT community by granting equal benefits to their employees. Now you see all these people standing behind companies and it’s almost as if there soon won’t be a company that hasn’t taken a side on the same-sex marriage issue. You have to realize that every company has a political view of some sort. And anyone who thinks politics and business can be separate from each other is badly mistaken.

Now, with the incoming freshmen at NYU, they’re going to enter the school system with a pre-meditated opinion about Chick-fil-A and what it’s done with these anti-gay causes. Do you think this is going to affect the Student Senate’s opinion and the student body at large?

I’ve heard that the Student Senate will revote on this issue next semester but that’s still to be seen. I think alot of people do know about now and will stop eating Chick-fil-A. I know the kids on the campaign in New York are working on a protest come September, when everyone’s back on campus, so the freshmen that don’t know about it are going to get hit with it right after Welcome Week [NYU’s orientation before classes start.]

I’ve heard some criticisms – it’s very similar to what I’ve heard at the time Occupy was starting – about how these protestors owned corporate products but we’re railing against Big Business. And then I was looking up what other organizations donate to anti-gay causes and you have the CEO of Urban Outfitters and Best Buy both donating to these homophobic affiliates. Now, you have the Best Buy nearby in Union Square and, on NYU’s campus at least, Urban Outfitters is definitely a big deal. Why aren’t we seeing the protests there?

People have said to me, “Well, why aren’t you protesting this? And this? And this?” To which I respond: I can only protest so much. I don’t shop at Urban Outfitters anymore but I think it’s very easy to avoid eating Chick-fil-A – I know alot of people who already have. You have to pick your battles and pick what is important to you. And Chick-fil-A has become very important to me.


NYU Faculty Calls Out President Sexton’s 2031 Expansion Plan In Open Letter

The saga over NYU’s 2031 expansion plan continues.

We recently took a trip to City Hall to hear about the university’s expansion plan and
while most of the dissenting voices in attendance were from residents of
the Greenwich Village, it was mentioned that nearly 35 of NYU’s
departments had also opposed the plan.

Yesterday those faculty, and a few students, released an ‘open letter’ airing out their grievances to President Sexton, which calls into question some of his testimony from the hearing.


As we previously reported, the expansion plan calls for the construction of four new buildings, three of which would be constructed on land already owned by the institution, as well as additional academic facilities and housing for incoming freshmen and faculty.

These new buildings have been dubbed “the superblock” and are the main source of concern for local residents, faculty and skeptical members of the city council due to their size and aesthetic that many fear will not blend with the surrounding area.

In his testimony, President Sexton said the proposed construction was necessary in an effort for NYU to stay competitive with other universities who have large enough facilities to recruit top students from across the country.

While on the topic of the student population, council member Dan Garodnick asked President Sexton about a rumor floating around that NYU was not holding classes on Friday, and not taking full of advantage of the space it already has.

President Sexton emphatically denied the rumor and even went on to add that “there are at least 10,000 students in classes on Friday.”

Well, it looks like the faculty at NYU are calling BS on that one.

On the issue of Friday attendance the faculty writes,

“Yes, there are certainly numerous recitations and labs scheduled on Fridays, but the figure of 10,000 students represents fully one-half the NYU undergraduate student body, and nearly one-quarter of the entire NYU student population. This does not square with our own experience as NYU faculty and students nor does it accord with the database about course scheduling we have been able to compile from Albert [the university’s internal web system].”

The three-page letter also expresses concern about the impact the expansion will have on student’s education costs as well as raises questions about the academic benefit of the “the superblock” due to the 20- year length of the construction project, which according to the letter will affect the housing of nearly 40% of the faculty.

The students and faculty are calling for the President and his administration to provide a publicly accessible business plan for the expansion — during the hearing the president’s team flubbed on several detailed questions posed by the city council including its estimated cost.

We reached out to the President’s office for comment and in an emailed statement this is what they said,

“We take careful and respectful note of these faculty voices, just as we know that they must have taken note of their many faculty colleagues, deans, administrators, trustees, alums, and students who spoke in support of proposal before the City Council and the City Planning Commission, and of the fact that the proposals have earned the strong endorsement of major editorial boards (the NY Times, the NY Post, the NY Daily News, Crains, and the NY Observer), of major civic groups (including the Regional Plan Association, ABNY, and the New York City Partnership), of business groups (including the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and the Greenwich Village Chelsea Chamber of Commerce), of labor (representatives of which spoke in support of our proposal), and of the majority of New Yorkers, according to polling. These proposals emerge out of our honest, best assessment of the academic space needs of our faculty and our schools; space for classrooms, research centers, labs, and performing arts space that is necessary to meet our educational and research missions. And the proposals strike a good balance, allowing NYU to use the superblocks it owns to meet its academic space needs over the next 20 years while addressing community concerns, such as reducing the expansion of its footprint in the neighborhood and creating and making accessible open space that is not publicly accessible today. “

The city council sub committee on zoning and franchises is set to hold a meeting on this issue next Tuesday, July 17th.