This week, the President of NYU participated in one of his regular dog-and-pony town halls with the Student Senators Council. These events are rife with problems – they’re only a very weak form of student input, questions are filtered/censored by members of the Student Senators Council, and students have no way to independently verify whether their Administration is lying to them. (except when they get caught: during the meeting, the prez claimed that a report on pay discrimination at NYU showed no problems, which is verifiably false)
As promised, members of Take Back NYU! attended the meeting to break the monotony of jsex’s rambling, to some effect – the President got a little worked up, but finally made an (undiplomatic) response to TBNYU!’s demands for accountability, transparency and democracy at NYU. The answer, as he made very clear, is no, no, and no to each of the demands.
Despite much hullabaloo from campus media-types, every question submitted to the town hall was answered (including one about animal rights which moderator Whitney Petrie pretended didn’t exist, saying that all questions were answered before it was asked), and members of TBNYU! carried on a spirited debate with the Prez over the issues they’ve been pressing for over a year – perhaps the only open criticism he sees on a regular basis.
Criticism of TBNYU!’s tactics at the Townhall are as misplaced as they are disingenuous – the point of the campaign is that the President is wearing no clothes, that his high-minded claims to enlightened leadership are misleading, and that students should regard the administration as just one member of a large NYU community with competing interests in how the school is run. Students have an interest in affordable, accessible education, the administration has an interest in a larger university that expands their reputation and lines their pockets, and these interests are in conflict. Students should only take the administration seriously on the condition that the administration takes them seriously, and that has not happened.