Take Back NYU! Starts the New School Year

So, this is happening:

NYU STUDENT ACTIVISTS LAUNCH TAKE BACK NYU! CAMPAIGN WITH FORMAL DEMANDS TO UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION

Students demand that NYU disclose its operating budget and endowment, and place a student on the Board of Trustees with press conference on NYU President Sexton’s doorstep; set one-month deadline for response.

New York, NY Sept. 2nd – A group of NYU student activists will kick off the 2008-2009 school year by launching a campaign called Take Back NYU!, demanding that the NYU Administration increase campus democracy by disclosing the school’s annual budget, endowment investments and by placing a student on the Board of Trustees. The demands include a request for a response within one month.

A diverse coalition of student activists joined together to demand accountability from the NYU administration during its rapid neighborhood expansion and transformation into a global university. Students from the groups Students Creating Radical Change, LUCHA (Latinos Unidos Con Honor y Amistad), the NYU National Organization for Women,  as well as many others have come together to support the campaign.

“The NYU administration needs to open its books to gain the trust of students and community members” said Farah Khimji, a member of NYU Students for a Democratic Society. “This is an issue that affects everyone connected to NYU.”

In the past year, NYU began a series of ambitious and controversial projects, including a branch campus in Abu Dhabi, and a merger with Polytechnic University in Brooklyn. Along with these changes, annual tuition has increased by $15,000 dollars over 20 years. Despite this, few students have spoken out about the changes at their university – something organizers hope to change.

“The administration is changing our school, without ever really talking to students – we need real dialogue to make this University work” said Claire Lewis of Students Creating Radical Change. “Our tuition supports what they do, I think they need to be held accountable to us.”

Other students, upset by the actions and makeup of the Board of Trustees, supported the idea of having a student on the Board. A number of other schools – including Washington University in St. Louis and Rutgers and Cornell, considered ‘peer institutions’ to NYU – allow student representation on their Boards.

“When I look at the Board of Trustees, I don’t see anyone who really represents me,” said Khimji added. “It’s a bunch of lawyers and CEOs – they aren’t in debt, they don’t know what it means to be a student here”

Unlike public schools, private universities like NYU aren’t bound to disclose budget information. The activists gathered on Tuesday are worried that NYU’s reluctance to disclose the budget could mean their school supports animal abuse, the conflict in Darfur or Iraq War profiteers.

“I want my school to be run ethically, taking into account the interests of the students” said Daniel Weinberg, a recent alumni of NYU. “Right now the administration could be doing anything they wanted, and we’d never know about it.”

Groups endorsing Take Back NYU! (at time of writing) include:

NYU Amnesty International

Asian Cultural Union

NYU Campus Anti-War Network

NYU Community Roots

Gallatone

Latinos Unidos Con Honor y Amistad

Malaysian and Indonesian Students Society

NYU National Organization for Women

Students of Color and Allies

NYU Students for a Democratic Society

Queer Union

Voices for Choice

Transform America

###

WHAT: Press Conference with NYU Student activists, kicking off Take Back NYU! campaign by presenting formal demands to NYU Administration.

WHERE: Southeast corner of Washington Square Park, near the intersection of West 4th/Washington Square South and Washington Square East.

WHEN: September 2nd, 11am

About Students Creating Radical Change: SCRC is a group of progressive activists at NYU dedicated to issues of popular education, social justice, anti-war and anti-recruitment and fair labor. SCRC in the last several years has done anti-war work on campus, executed the successful Campaign Against Killer Coke, and led a solidarity campaign during the Graduate Student Organizing Committee (Grad Student Union) strike, which was broken by NYU in 2005.

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