Town hall focuses on sexual assault

Alanna Bayarin, Staff Writer

Sexual assault became a topic of contention during a town hall with NYU President John Sexton that was held on Nov. 11 in the Kimmel Center for University Life.

Two graduate students from the Arthur L. Carter School of Journalism asked Sexton about the small number of reports of sexual assault on the NYU campus. Sexton said the sensationalism in journalism causes unnecessary controversy and NYU deals with sexual assault reports appropriately.

“You’re falling into one of the unfortunate foils of modern journalism where it becomes a ‘Gotcha’ or ‘How can I create controversy?’” Sexton said. “We try to get the most accurate data we can, so I think that we have clean data.”

CAS junior Kenzi Abou-Sabe asked Sexton about student safety and sexual assault on the Abu Dhabi campus. Sexton said many people in the United States do not understand the United Arab Emirates.

“There is an astonishing amount of misinformation about that region in general,” Sexton said. “We chose the Emirates for a reason, because they have a remarkable leadership. The kind of picture that is painted is with a very broad brush.”

Abou-Sabe said, despite the vagueness, she was satisfied with Sexton’s response.

“I don’t know how specific of an answer I expected,” Abou-Sabe said. “But I think he’s limited in what he can and can’t say.”

When asked about the university’s alleged investments in companies that support Israeli settlements in Gaza, Sexton said NYU does not invest money in Israeli companies.

“The university does not invest in corporations at all,” Sexton said.  “We don’t own any stock in any companies or corporations, we invest in funds or in government bonds.”

Information on the university’s investments are not made public.

Sexton also said NYU encourages open dialogue about issues among students and faculty, but the university, as a whole, does not take a political stance.

“This university does not make political statements as a university,” Sexton said. “I have not, since 1988, taken a public political position on anything except for matters that relate directly to the portfolio of the university.”

In response to a question about the controversy surrounding NYU 2031, Sexton said the magnitude of protest, specifically from faculty members, surprised him.

“I knew that I would be the poster child for vilification that would come from a very activist community,” Sexton said. “I did not expect as much opposition to come from the faculty who came to oppose it.”

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Nov. 12 print edition. Email Alanna Bayarin at [email protected].