Students must come before expansion

Tommy Collison, Opinion Editor

WSN reported yesterday that the university’s lowest-income students pay comparatively more for their education than similar students at other universities in the United States. Citing reports from ProPublica and The New York Times, reports indicate that NYU’s lowest-income students pay an average of $25,441 a year, ranking 11th out of the 100 universities which the reports focused on. Whether the university fully appreciates this or not, the high costs of attendance here are part of its reputation — we’re known as a good school, but also one where students have to stretch quite a bit to afford. Unfortunately, another facet of our reputation, which will stay with us long after we graduate, is NYU’s expansion plan, both in Greenwich Village and abroad. Quite simply, the administration is failing its low-income students. In this light, it is unreasonable for NYU expansion to continue: it must focus on its current students, even if this means halting new development in the near future.

Giving million-dollar loans to high-ranking administrators and faculty-members for homes and second homes can make financial sense — these loans make money because of the interest generated.  However, given student resentment that continues to be felt around campus when the subject of John Sexton’s Fire Island home is brought up, the question of common sense must be raised. It is true that faculty deserve bonuses and incentives like these help NYU attract better professors, but a distinction must be drawn at some stage between what is financially prudent and what is best for students.

Another reason that NYU would be right to make student financial aid its central priority is that, loans aside, the administration has been no stranger to scandal over the last number of years. From five votes of no confidence in outgoing President Sexton to harsh labor conditions during NYU Abu Dhabi’s construction and animosity between the administration and Greenwich Village residents, the administration should take this opportunity for some good press — not to mention doing the right thing — and increase financial aid for those who need it most.

When Sexton’s presidency is evaluated with the clarity of hindsight, I have no doubt that his time at the helm of this university will be viewed as a success, but what sort of success is debatable. NYU is a very good business — it is savvy with loans and manages to consistently increase the number of applicants and tuition it brings in each year. The problem is that NYU is not a business. It is, as we are often reminded, a private university in the public service. If the administration wants to do right by those record number of applicants each year, it should serve them better when it comes to financial aid. It should downsize its expansion plans and put that money back toward students.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. 

Email Tommy Collison at [email protected]

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