Once upon a time, there was an NYU building called the Loeb Student Center. It had student club offices, rooms to meet, and served a few administrative functions. Then, in 2004, it was demolished. It was replaced by the Kimmel Center for University Life. Note the change in title – and a change in function.
Kimmel has no student group offices, but rather a maze of administrative functions, lounges with no desks or tables, and lots of locked rooms. It’s a place for sitting and chatting, not organizing or plotting. NYU has been endlessly pimping out the building to all comers – including this week, the CMJ Music Marathon, which despite being the COLLEGE Music Journalism conference, seems to primarily involve lots of older folks in Vans and thick glasses milling about looking cool and important both. CMJ is one example of how NYU has turned it’s buildings into symbols of institutional prestige at the cost of student life.
Despite huge investments in expansion lately, NYU is running really low on space right now – the Tisch Building for the Stern School is under renovation, with a loss of student space and classrooms that have put pressure on the Kimmel Center and the Library. It’s now a weekly struggle to find space in the library to study. The space/building situation at NYU embodies NYU’s real priorities – they’ll build new buildings for scientific research that builds prestige, law school buildings for that cash-cow, and new dorms to keep expanding the student body – but very little goes into the general student body doing the day-to-day work of studying and learning.
Cross-posted to the TBNYU! blog