Thank you for your response to our letter [that requests] NYU [to] end its business relationships with JPMorgan Chase until the bank halts foreclosures in New York.
Since your last letter, thousands of homes in New York State have entered foreclosure, including over 2,000 in December alone. Banks such as Chase have the ability, and in fact the responsibility, to put an end to this crisis by reducing the amount homeowners owe them, as organizations such as New York Communities for Change have demanded.
Our concern about the housing crisis is not a distant one. Many of us have already entered the housing market as renters, and almost all of us will be looking for housing that we can afford soon. At the same time, we’re taking on more debt to remain at NYU. Chase continues to make the housing system more unstable, unequal and wasteful.
NYU, as the city’s fourth largest landholder and an employer of one of the largest workforces in the city, constantly makes financial and operational decisions with deep political repercussions. NYU directly and concretely influences the world.
In the face of environmental degradation, the university created a sustainability task force. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, members of the NYU community coordinated recovery efforts. After the brutal assassination of Colombian union leaders, we decided to cut our ties with Coca-Cola. And in 2009 we cut ties with Russell Athletics due to its violation of workers’ rights. Our community has frequently decided that, although there may be dissent and debate, the need and consensus was great enough for action.
Rather than claiming to be apolitical, we must become a transparent community that values the input of all of its members. While Chase executive Steven Miller sits on the Board of Trustees, the final decision-making body at NYU, students are only represented through the University Senate, which merely plays an advisory role to the president. This clear imbalance of power must be shifted.
As you suggested, we intend to bring our concerns to the University Senate. In the name of strengthening democracy on campus, we ask you to make the Senate open to public attendance and comment. In the meantime we will continue to develop a discourse on campus through public events, petitioning drives and daily conversations with members of our community.
While thousands of distressed homeowners, many of whom were the victims of predatory banking practices, teeter closer to homelessness, we cannot stop at mere dialogue. We have an opportunity to push banks that wish to do business with NYU to be accountable to the people of this city. We ask you to take immediate action by notifying Chase that we will no longer give them our money until they halt the foreclosures.
This letter was submitted by the Students for Economic Justice.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 11 print edition.
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