Updated – Dec. 3, 4:40 p.m.
NYU spokesperson John Beckman said in a statement that the university is working hard to fully implement the contract and intends to honor it for every graduate student covered by it.
“To the extent there have been some delays or issues, they are the inadvertent consequence of trying to implement a completely new and complex contract that extends new benefits and compensation — both raises and retroactive pay — to hundreds and hundreds of individuals not previously covered,” the statement reads. “We regret the problems, we are working hard to correct them and get every issue resolved, and we are in constant communication with the union.
Students marched in a “Walk of Shame” organized by Graduate Student Organizing Committee to publicize NYU’s violation of the contract created last spring to offer more benefits for student employees on Tuesday.
Approximately 40 students and faculty members gathered outside the Jerome S. Coles Sports Center at 12:30 p.m. before walking to Steinhardt and passing through Washington Square Park to reach Elmer Holmes Bobst Library. Along the way, more students joined the group.
Led by GSOC members carrying a white banner with some banging pots, the attendees loudly yelled chants such as, “Shame on you, NYU,” and “Hey John Sexton, you’re no good; treat your workers like you should.” While walking, GSOC members distributed flyers, and some, like Tandon graduate student and GSOC steward Parth Singh, made speeches at each stop through a megaphone to draw attention from passersby.
“We are trying to create awareness amongst grad students that there’s a union and they are fighting for your rights,” Singh said. “We are trying to enlist all the grad students to become a part of the union.”
The title “Walk of Shame” was explained by doctoral student and GSOC unit representative Anne Pasek at the beginning of the march, as protesters initially congregated outside Coles.
“We are here to shame this university because too often, shame is all it responds to,” Pasek said.
After protests and pressure from student workers last year enabled negotiations that yielded a contract providing employees with more rights and benefits, students hoped for more respectful treatment from the NYU administration.
But GSAS student and Unit Representative for GSOC Ella Wind, who participated in the negotiations, said that NYU has failed to abide by the agreement in a range of ways, something they sought to draw attention to during the event.
“This [protest] is about the fact that NYU has been egregiously violating the contract that we negotiated,” Wind said. “I think that NYU is trying to push back against the contract that we won. They didn’t negotiate in good faith in that case, if they’re not willing to enforce the contract that they signed.”
Singh said some of his friends and coworkers suffered as a result of NYU’s inaction, and he noted the problems that payment issues also create for international students, a group for whom GSOC is fighting hard.
“A lot of students are international students,” Singh said. “They fear retaliation from NYU and they would not have any support at all.”
The event received particular attention in Bobst, where GSAS student Chris Nickell appeared wearing a black suit and white paper beard to give a speech parodying John Sexton’s accent and statements in regards to workers’ rights issues. Hearing the noise generated by the events below, a few students students studying walked down to investigate. Gallatin junior Isabelle Vianu mentioned its efficacy to draw renewed attention to workers’ rights issues.
“I heard it two floors down,” Vianu said. “I haven’t heard of it since March, since the last day when there was the threatened strike.”
However, others, like College of Nursing student MJ Ka, were just confused by the purpose of the event.
“I have no idea what they’re talking about right now,” Ka said.
Email Dan Moritz-Rabson at [email protected]