To the editor: Response to ‘Sexton, Lipton stray from NYU vision’

Raquel Woodruff and Edward Radzivilovskiy’s recent article “Sexton, Lipton stray from NYU vision” is shockingly one-sided and laden with errors or half-truths, just the type of journalism to make any reasonable person look elsewhere for news about NYU.

As Chair of the Faculty Senators Council for the past two years, and as Chair of the Space Priorities Working Group, I was contacted by Radzivilovskiy last week. Nothing I said appears in the article. Presumably, the authors had already made up their minds.

The authors fail to point out, for example, that roughly half of the department resolutions on [NYU] 2031 expressed concern rather than opposition about the original 2031 plan. Any reasonable person would understand the qualitative difference between concern and opposition, and would want to know that those resolutions took place before the city’s approvals, which reduced

the density, eliminated the hotel and prohibited construction on the Washington Square Village block before 2022. The FSC’s own survey in 2012 showed that a majority of respondents might feel differently about 2031 if the scale was reduced, and that the hotel and construction on the North Block were the primary points of concern. Even worse, the authors say nothing about the recent Interim Report of the Space Priorities Working Group, which can hardly be said to have recommended that the university “execute” the original plan. Too much detail and too much background reading for WSN, apparently.

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The authors seem equally naïve about governance. The shared governance principles they refer to articulate a new vision for governance at NYU. They were negotiated between the FSC and administration over a two-month period in fall 2012 and passed by the Board of Trustees. Those principles now inform all the interactions between the FSC and the

administration, and also inform the recent memo from the Board of Trustees that sets NYU on a path to improve its mechanisms of governance. I would have expected WSN to welcome this moment and undertake some serious journalism on the topic of best practices in governance; instead, we get something between a cop out and the fallacious argument that because all isn’t right in the world now or in the past, nothing will ever change.

I can only hope that somewhere down the road WSN will exhibit the ability to tackle these issues responsibly, by acknowledging their complexity, doing a bit of homework, broadening its range of sources and making a good faith effort to serve the university community.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 24 print edition. Ted Magder is a chair of the University Space Priorities Working Group, former chair of the Faculty Senators Council and professor of Media, Culture and Communication in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. Email him at [email protected]

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. Although I am just one person, I am knowingly posting as the voice of a various number of students from NYU. And as a courtesy to Mr. Magder, I warn you, this is just an OPINION.
    Definition: Opinion (o·pin·ion) noun: a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

    1. Edward Radzivilovskiy and Raquel Woodruff’s initial article had some incredibly valid points. I am not incredibly versed in the dealings of the scandal, but I am an active member of the student body and am definitely well read. The article articulated Mr. Sexton’s successes as our school President as well as his faults. Both of which were supported through interviews, research, and sheer fact. If I had a method of protesting and voicing my opinion on a daily basis about the matter, there is no doubt that I would. But, since I prefer to stay out of the spotlight, I am extremely grateful that writers of WSN (such as Edward and Raquel) can stand up for the student body instead.

    2. It is incredibly disappointing that a respected faculty member decided to negatively single-out students who are voicing their OPINION and CONCERN, but also did not contribute any enlightening or beneficial information to the quarrel. Instead of proving his point, Mr. Magder seemed to put his guard up and defend his own pride, rather that help the student body further understand the issue.

    3. In response to Mr. Magder’s unprofessional “rebuttal” to the initial article, Edward very eloquently set matters straight here (http://edwardrad.com/2013/09/25/sexton-and-lipton-must-resign-a-redux/). I give endless kudos to the professionalism and grace in which he dealt with the issue and thank him for his contributions.

    4. As for Mr. Magder, instead of unnecessarily bashing students for their opinions — maybe try to actually listen to what the student body is saying, respond to their inquisitive emails, and get to know the issue from the bottom up. A coffee is a great place to start; I hear the Argo on campus is great.

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