Many students and faculty have voiced concerns about the university’s request for donations to the the university’s fundraising campaign for the 1831 Fund, an NYU-run scholarship organization.
NYU recently published a record-high expected tuition estimate for the 2015-16 academic year ranging from $70,586 to $78,112, depending on the school.
The 1831 Fund provides financial aid to students and gave over $128,000 in financial aid to students this year. However some have argued such initiatives would not be necessary if the university didn’t recently increase tuition prices.
Professor Ernest Davis said the university asking faculty for donations is troublesome. Davis has even tried to address the situation in the past, but to no avail.
“It doesn’t matter for tenured faculty, who can ignore it without worrying, but sending this kind of message to non-tenured faculty and to staff is really objectionable, since, rightly or wrongly, they may worry that failing to contribute may have repercussions on their job,” Davis said. “A colleague and I complained about this to the development office four years ago, and were met with complete incomprehension.”
CAS sophomore Andrea Ng said the 1831 Fund should not ask students to donate, considering they already pay thousands of dollars in tuition costs.
“I’m honestly not as inclined to donate to the school over other causes, since I’m already paying a ridiculous amount for my education,” Ng said. “I personally think there are other more meaningful ways my money can be used in other organizations, like nonprofits, or for investments in other more enriching endeavours.”
NYU spokesperson John Beckman said the university needs to ask members of the NYU community for money to make up for the university’s relatively small endowment.
“NYU is in the unusual position of being regarded as being similar to the top universities academically, but being unlike them in terms of financial resources, and especially per student endowment,” Beckman said. “That low per-student endowment means NYU has fewer resources available for financial aid than many peer institutions.”
LS freshman Sean Chia agreed with Ng’s argument that students are already paying large sums of money to NYU, but said the relatively low cost of donating to the 1831 Fund does not compare to the high tuition costs he is already paying.
“It is sort of a psychological manipulation where the university is saying ‘Hey, donate now and help out people like yourself,’” Chia said. “As a student who is currently receiving no assistance from the university, I find such requests to be absurd. But then again, what is an additional $50 going to be 30 years from now when I’ve hopefully already paid over a quarter million dollars in debt?”
In light of the ongoing debate over whether or not NYU faculty members are paid enough, some professors think NYU’s targeting of faculty members for donations is excessive. Beckman said donations are not mandated and that other universities have ledsimilar donation campaigns.
“If there are colleagues here at NYU who choose not to give, that’s their right,” Beckman said. “But I think it’s pretty cynical to be so negative about others making gifts to a university they believe in, and pretty hypocritical to complain about student debt on the one hand and disparage a fundraising campaign for scholarship funds on the other.”
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 31 print edition. Email Alanna Bayarin at [email protected]