Incited to act by NYU’s systemic failure to answer to community demands, engage in meaningful discourse, uphold human rights and maintain transparency, a growing group of students are in the process of forging an independent decision-making body led by students.
The newly-formed Alternative Endowment Committee will be responsible for guiding an alternative endowment fund which students, faculty and alumni who share our dissatisfied view of university decision-making can donate to. The student coalition will responsibly invest the funds in companies that have positive impacts on society and generate competitive returns. Only when NYU meets the demands of our coalition will the funds be transferred to the school.
Decision-making power at NYU rests in the hands of the Board of Trustees: a unilaterally appointed body comprised primarily of wealthy real estate agents and financiers.
It is at this board’s behest that the global network university upholds an international network of labor exploitation and perpetuates economic inequalities. This broken image of the university can and must be repaired, and the Alternative Endowment Coalition will play an instrumental role in those repairs. It is our hope to leave a legacy of social change that is tangible and durable.
We recognize that money is power. While the Board of Trustees make decisions that reflect that truism, the Alternative Endowment Committee seeks to transcend the material concerns of a profit-seeking culture and leverage the university’s monetary motivations in order to maintain transparency, divest from extractive industries and commit to ethical labor principles throughout NYU’s global empire.
While we welcome the efforts of our president, Andrew Hamilton, to bring diversity to the student senate and work with students to reduce debt, we see independence as the only solution to pressing issues. The change we want to enact in the university has not, and will not, come from within it. The Committee wishes to be a solution to the issue of student disenfranchisement. At the very least, we want a seat at the table to engage in meaningful dialogue and challenge the values held by the university.
Our academic and social environment should be welcoming of our diverse backgrounds and values. It is time that we create this environment for ourselves. This is our community and our money. As stakeholders, we want our university to reflect us, just as we will reflect the university once we are alumni.
We need your voice to help build this vision. We want to empower students to compete with the Board of Trustees’ vision for the school.
We meet on Monday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. in the University Residence Hall Lounge Conference Room and apply for positions in the fund between now and March 11.
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A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Mar. 7th print edition.