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Students organize against NYU expansion plan

Posted on April 10, 2013 | by Fay Lin

Chuck Kuan for WSN


Student opposition to NYU 2031, the plan to expand the university by as much as six million square feet, flared yesterday as the student group’s first public protest stopped pedestrian traffic outside Bobst Library.

With signs and flyers in hand, around a dozen members of the student-run group NYU Students and Alumni Against the Sexton Plan expressed concerns about the plan’s size, cost and possible impacts on tuition.

Protest organizer and CAS sophomore Kristina Mayman said that students need to take more action if they have problems with the administration.

“I’ve been seeing how the faculty is getting involved and doing a great job fighting NYU President John Sexton’s leadership, and I was just surprised that there wasn’t student involvement already,” Mayman said. “This issue is a student problem, and we should be out in the streets to do something about it.”

Signs used during the protest brought attention to financial issues and concerns about the university’s leadership.

Students and Alumni Against the Sexton Plan has received some guidance and support from NYU faculty, including members of the Faculty Against the Sexton Plan group.

CAS professor Adam Becker said students should voice their opinions, and that successfully fighting the administration entails collective effort.

“This isn’t something where we have a vote and then Sexton loses the vote, he steps down and everything’s great,” Becker said. “It’s a long-term project, and it will require faculty, it will require students and, with regards to 2031, it has so

far required the community members as well.”

Mayman hopes the protest clearly establishes a student voice on NYU 2031.

“This is our attempt to introduce ourselves, and hopefully people will hear the message and join in,” she said.

SASP handed out flyers stating their claims, such as the amount of real estate NYU gave to four employees and the amount of money adjunct professors, who constitute approximately 50 to 70 percent of NYU’s faculty, typically earn.

However, the NYU administration maintains that the university has enough money to support endeavors like the expansion plan.

“It should be understood that this project has a sound financial plan, is well within the university’s financial means and is critical to maintaining NYU’s extraordinary academic trajectory and fulfilling our academic and educational missions in the years to come,” said NYU spokesman John Beckman.

Omar Clark, an NYU-Poly second-year graduate student who protested, said there are problems with the administration aside from the expansion.

“It’s not really only about the expansion. It’s about NYU’s different ventures in respect to our divestment from fossil fuels in Abu Dhabi and countries like that,” he said. “We just need a whole system change in respect to NYU schools.”

Chuck Kuan for WSN

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, April 10 print edition. Additional reporting by Billy Richling. Fay Lin and Billy Richling are staff writers. Email them at


  • oliver hennsesy

    Conrats to the students who are speaking up against John Sexton, and his board of trustees. if you just break down NYU’s statement: that it “is critical to maintaining NYU?s extraordinary academic trajectory” said NYU spokesman John Beckman” one has to question what John Beckman (John Sextons mouth piece) means by trajectory.NYU’s interest certainly doesnt seem to have anything to do with education. And it is the students and their parents who are flipping the buck for NYU’s real estate “trjectory” more studens, dorm rooms (otherwise known as cash flow), more adjunct professors who are paid close to minimum wage, and money lost every day on NYU’s global university. NYU has not only broken every promise to the community, they are attempting to steal public park land to continue to increase NYU’s real estate portfolio, which only benefits the few real estate developers who are NYU’s board of trustees. NYU has been bullying the community for years and years, and having Michael Bloomberg and Christine Quinn, and Margaret Chin in their back pockets they have gotten away with it. So thank you and kudos to the students whose money is paying John Sextons salary for standing up and saying NO NO NO to NYU2031.

  • Paul Funkhouser

    A coalition for a collective NYU action on May Day 2013 is meeting for the first time this Thursday, April 11, on the fourth floor of the Puck building (295 Lafayette St) at 9:00pm.

    This will be a group of individuals, representing themselves and/or their respective NYU club/organization, coming together to organize actions on and around May 1, 2013. Unified, students and faculty will be able to effectively and meaningfully voice dissent against the unacceptable corporatization of our university and the broader structures of education inequality.

    Education is a right that should be available to everyone, and not a privilege reserved for the few. A student call for an equal approach to education draws in many of the campaigns being fought by various groups around campus, and it is a base that all students can rally behind. NYU’s increasingly corporate approach to education is burying thousands of students in debt. Grievances against NYU are multiplying and becoming more publicly visible. The University has made it clear that there is no space for the voices of students and faculty, as it continues to put profit above education. This is a unique opportunity for opposition forces to come together and fight for a democratic university that respects students, faculty, and staff, and supports and works to better its community, both locally and globally.

    Let’s work together to join forces and amplify our power as a movement. Let’s mobilize for May Day. Pass this information along to all, like wildfire. We can demand and demonstrate to the university the democracy that our students, workers, and faculty deserve.

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