For a university of almost 40,000 students, the turnout at last night’s student town hall with NYU President John Sexton was sparse. Approximately 40 students peppered the otherwise empty chairs of the Global Center for Spiritual and Academic Life
’s Grand Hall, but that did not stop Sexton from addressing students’ concerns.
“Town Halls are part of the [Student Senator Council’s] commitment to providing students with the resources they need to be aware of what’s going on at their university,” said student senator and LSP sophomore Griffin Simpson said.
Sexton pointed out other events he hosts as an attempt to stay connected to students, such as student dinners and round-table discussions.
“Students are the agenda,” Sexton said, highlighting the fact that he teaches a full class load.
Students in the audience submitted questions, and SCC members at the meeting screened the questions that Sexton was asked. At this meeting, questions centered primarily around financial concerns of the university as well as its expanding global presence. Others raised concerns about Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, including NYU’s carbon footprint, the Langone Medical Center’s recovery from and NYU’s commitment to science education.
In response to each question, Sexton encouraged students to bring their own ideas to the table.
“If you give us ideas, we’ll do it,” Sexton said.
Perennial concerns about tuition costs and global expansion persisted.
Steinhardt sophomore Daniel Soto asked Sexton to address concerns that NYU was becoming almost corporate in its pursuit for money.
In response, Sexton insisted that NYU’s rising price tag is dedicated to education.
“We lose money on every sale,” Sexton said. “As high as our tuition is, it does not cover the cost of the education we provide. Virtually everything we do is geared [toward] education.”
The conversation over finances led to the concept of NYU as a global network university, and some students inquired about the true benefits of such a venture.
When NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai are fully operating, Sexton said that they will be generating thousands of scholarships for students at any NYU location.
After two questions about financial aid, Sexton explained a few of his positions on important higher-education policies, such as tuition caps.
“Putting a cap on tuition diminishes my ability to give financial aid,” Sexton said. His reasoning is that if tuition is higher, those who can afford it will pay the higher price, giving the university more money to invest in financial aid.
Although attendence was sparse, Darrin Oliver, a senior in the Silver School of Social Work, was in attendance for his fourth Town Hall.
“I like to know what everyone is thinking,” Oliver said. “With such a big campus, you can’t really get a barometer on everyone.”
Sexton concluded by offering advice to students heading into finals.
“You’ll get through exams fine, but I’m not defining fine,” Sexton said with a chuckle before once again getting serious. “Don’t stress yourself out too much.”
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Nov. 28 print edition. Kevin Burns is a staff writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.