NYU 2031, the bane of many Greenwich Village residents, is up against an obstacle. On Tuesday, 11 groups filed a joint lawsuit against the city for approving the school’s expansion plan, which City Council voted to allow last month in a 44-1 vote. If this expansion takes place, the negative repercussions would impact students’ pockets, the neighborhood’s history and the city’s consciousness; thus questioning the integrity of the nation’s largest private university.
It can be argued that this expansion plan is merely an illustration of the school’s greed. Behind only the Catholic Church in private ownership of city property, there is little reason to support President John Sexton’s desire to take over even more real estate. Despite his arguments that the expansion would make NYU a “world class university,” many would argue that we have reached that point and can sustain it at current fiscal and spatial levels.
It is easy for students to be disdainful because we’re the ones currently, though indirectly, footing the bill for the massive project. The hope exists that the final product will help create an even greater version of NYU — one with more space for academic facilities and student housing. So the pay now for the betterment of the later argument holds water despite the antipathy.
The opposition from faculty and Greenwich Village residents is less economically motivated and, therefore, far more powerful. Residents argue that a large expanse of private land was illegally yielded to NYU to expedite the expansion, thus infringing on the neighborhood they know.
The Sexton Plan would uproot a piece of the city that is intrinsic to New York’s history. The site that would undergo transformation can be traced back to Martha Graham, Andy Warhol and Allen Ginsberg, who launched their artistic careers in Greenwich Village. It is an area that would be partially tainted with the addition of four new university buildings. Although an NYU education is considered grounds for a successful career, it is fair to question the morality of destroying artistic history in order to pave the way for more NYU-crafted creativity.
So with the financial, historical and aesthetic concerns in mind, one must ask, does NYU truly want to be “in and of the city” or engulf it?
A version of this article appeared in the Sept. 27 print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at [email protected]