NYU President Andrew Hamilton held his first town hall, dubbed “Afternoon Tea with Andrew Hamilton,” to discuss the steps he has taken to address issues and concerns regarding affordability and the NYU Global Network on Tuesday afternoon.
Hamilton has previously put forward small changes to address the issue of affordability at NYU. He proposed in an email to the NYU community a combination of fee freezes and cost reductions to lower the planned increase in cost to “2.9% for most of its undergraduate programs… the lowest increase in 20 years.” Although Hamilton acknowledges that it is a “modest step,” he successfully sent the message that his presidency will be dedicated to students’ concerns at NYU.
The panel began with five student leaders addressing concerns they had regarding a line of miscommunication and lack of academic stability among many NYU global programs. CAS junior and Student Senator Amanda Ezechi said the lack of academic consistency hinders students’ ability to choose a global program that can fit their academic needs.
“This is a conversation we need to begin to be having as a university, to encourage more students to go abroad and not feel like they’re losing something for their degree,” Ezechi said.
Hamilton agreed, emphasizing the need for more communication among all branches of the academic environment within NYU and throughout the global network. He also repeatedly promised to take other concerns into consideration, even those he was unfamiliar with.
Steinhardt junior Thomas Jason Davis, a US Navy veteran, asked Hamilton about possible plans to make NYU realistically affordable for student veterans.
“Why, as veterans, do we need to compete with one another to have funding put forward to pay for our tuition,” Davis said. “It’s obvious that we are not traditional college students, there is limited amount of funding in regards to scholarships and grants that other students take advantage of.”
Hamilton admitted he did not know much about veterans affairs at NYU, and promised to look into the matter.
“I wasn’t at all aware of the issues you’ve just raised,” Hamilton said. “In my first two months, I’m very glad you’ve taken this opportunity to raise them. And let me say I will promise to look into them.”
Hamilton continually promised to regard student input as fundamental to his time as president. During the town hall, CAS junior Juan Manuel Calero Canaval asked what Hamilton planned to do about students who are homeless or involved in illegal activities due to the high cost of NYU. Hamilton, responded by openly acknowledged the problem as an issue of major importance.
Speaking after the event, Calero Canaval said he was heartened by Hamilton’s authenticity after being disappointed with university administrators in the past.
“I really do believe Hamilton is genuine,” Calero said. “He isn’t evasive of questions.”
Time and time again, Hamilton’s made clear his central message of his willingness to listen with intention to act.
“The single most important thing I’ve set myself to do in these first months at NYU is to listen,” Hamilton said. “To listen to the issues that are in everyone’s minds.”
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