New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

NYU should refocus on current renovations


The University Space Priorities Working Group released its final report and an executive summary in an email to the NYU community yesterday. Created by NYU President John Sexton in October 2012, the Working Group comprises 26 faculty representatives who give guidance to the administration on the “existing, pressing space needs of academic units and programs” and listen to the “implications of the NYU Core Project for members of the University community.” After so much focus on the expansion plan, the administration should return attention to restoring the quality of current facilities on campus.

In its final report, the Working Group recommended the construction of 80 new classrooms and 40,000 gross square feet of student study and meeting space, in addition to specialized performing arts spaces. The group also suggested that the Coles Sports Center site be remodeled to include student residence halls that could accommodate 500 freshmen and about 100 units of faculty housing. In the email, group members expressed confidence that their recommendations were consistent with the NYU academic mission.

The Working Group discussed fiscal responsibility in the executive summary and advised that NYU should not adjust future tuition fees to cover capital costs. A more detailed section on financing recommended that NYU preserve current tuition assumptions and commit to an increase in fundraising, replacing the $136 million target with a substantially higher goal. Some say this target is not feasible.

While the construction of new facilities may be necessary to support the students currently enrolled at NYU, the proposed expansion project overshadows other construction projects already in progress. According to the university’s website, a number of buildings are under renovation, including the Waverly Building and the Silver Center for Arts and Science. The administration could better serve the NYU community by focusing more on these renovations and restoring other antiquated facilities including the Tisch Dance Builing on Second Avenue and the Barney Building on Stuyvesant Street. The administration should update the NYU community on the progress of the current renovations and ensure that older buildings on campus are receiving the same attention as the expansion plan.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, March 5 print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at [email protected]

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  • E

    Ernest DavisMar 6, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Another instance, also from Warren Weaver Hall: There has, for a month, been a dead animal in the wall of one of the large lecture rooms, making it pretty much unusable.

    In large measure, this kind of thing is due to cutbacks in the maintenance staff. Warren Weaver used to have its own building superintendent, with two people working for him, on site in the building. Now there is a single manager for 10 buildings.

  • M

    Mark Crispin MillerMar 5, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    And yet another case of dangerous neglect (reported by this newspaper):

  • E

    Ernest DavisMar 5, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    “After so much focus on the expansion plan, the administration should return attention to restoring the quality of current facilities on campus.” Exactly. Serious maintenance problems have been allowed to persist. There is the perennially leaking roof at 715-719 Broadway, that had large costs in property damage and inconvenience to faculty and students. There are the loose tiles in Gould Plaza, which will cost someone a broken ankle one of these days. There is the new wooden sidewalk in front of Warren Weaver Hall — very classy when dry, but so slippery when wet that they have been taped off all winter. People get stuck in elevators and can’t call security because the elevator intercom is broken. And those are just at the parts of campus I personally happen to frequent; I’m sure things are equally bad elsewhere.

    Equally important is to reverse the baleful effects of the “reengineering” of a few years ago — that is, the laying off of many of the most competent and experienced mid-level administrators, the people who actually make the University work. Basic administrative tasks, that, ten years ago, could be done quickly and efficiently are now hugely time-consuming and inefficient, because the offices are understaffed and the responsible staff is inexperienced.

    Ernest Davis, Professor of Computer Science

  • P

    Pen_Is_MightierMar 5, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Excellent article. Thirty-five percent student acceptance rates at over $64,000 annual tuition a head; crushing student debt, making ours the most indebted student body in the entire nation. Grotesquely underpaid non-contract faculty, making up half of the university’s teaching corps. Big deal, just minor inconvenient details. “Bigger, bolder, debter!” says the administration’s cherry-picked, rubber-stamping Space Committee. Meanwhile, it is as if what NYU does in fact already own and is responsible for at least maintaining, if not ideally enhancing, is left to go to seed … while Sexton’s expansionist fantasies, both in the Village and abroad,
    continue unabated and are, in fact, encouraged by our Board of Trustees.

    Just off this faculty member’s head:

    No AC in Brittany Hall as recently as two summers ago, even though the Housing Office was perfectly content to continue renting out rooms throughout the year’s hottest weeks — and raking in the students’ dough

    Bathrooms on some of the floors in the Silver Center in worse condition than anything you might find in a train station restroom

    Try, just try, to replace a broken desk-chair in a lecture hall — and try not to pass out when you hear what it costs your department

    Washington Sq. Village 6-day blackout, with no emergency lights either in the stairwells or even the lobbies, during Hurricane Sandy

    More recently: WSV deep freeze, as well over a 100 units were left without proper heat during one of the most fiercely cold winters in recent memory

    Stalled elevators in Warren Weaver, with no working intercom to call for help

    Low-grade motion-censored lights installed this past fall in the stairwells of Silver Center that seem to become activated just as you round a landing

    Unusable, constantly roped-off wood-planked seating area atop the Mercer
    co-generator — for fear of people slipping and hurting themselves on
    the wet or icy surface

    Loose pavement blocks throughout Tisch’s Schwartz Plaza, making it but a
    matter of time before there’s a broken leg or nose, if there haven’t been a few already ALL instances of penny-pinching, inferior design and shoddy workmanship — all posing potential hazards to students and staff.

    And our administration is seriously considering building the so-called “Zipper Building” monstrosity — tantamount to two Bobst Libraries, in square footage — on the site of Coles Gym, less than 17% of which said building is even allocated for academic instructional use? When almost a 100 faculty apartments currently stand empty in WSV and Silver Towers? When space could and should be creatively and intelligently repurposed and/or utilized more efficiently? Given this administration’s track record, everyone reading this can make up their own mind as to the real motivations behind this latest real estate scheme — and how much it will cost our students.