Most Recent Affordability Brainstorm Draws More Students

President Andrew Hamilton's Affordability Steering Committee met again Monday, April 18 for the fourth time, hoping to find a way to incorporate students and professors in making more collaborative decisions regarding the issue surrounding affordability at NYU.

In an effort to make NYU more financially accessible, President Andrew Hamilton’s  Affordability Steering Committee held another “How might we?” brainstorming session Monday. This meeting — held in Kimmel — was the third in a series that aims to promote student and faculty involvement in university decisions.

The committee, which is a small team of deans, faculty members and students, works in conjunction with a working group of administrators that help turn suggestions made at these sessions into university initiatives and policies. Monday’s session saw more attendants than the first public forum on April 8.

The session was led by Ellen Schall, former dean of the Wagner School, who came up with the idea to create the committee and serves as its chair.

“The task for the steering committee and the working group is to be creative and to look at all the ways that NYU is organized and the way the world works in terms of policy issues and to think about how to make NYU more affordable for more people,” Schall said.

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At the event, roughly 30 attendees wrote down a suggestion on green sticky notes and then stuck them to an easel specific to one of nine categories, which included administrative efficiencies, policy changes and employment. They then spoke amongst each other to select the best ideas on the easels, which they wrote on orange sheets.

The group then voted on what the best ideas on the orange sheets were. The ideas that got the most votes were letting freshmen opt out of meal plans, adding more three-person dorms and reducing MetroCard fees for students on financial aid.

Another popular idea was creating more online courses using NYU Law School’s online program as a model. To this end, one attendee suggested letting undergraduates complete their first year online before spending their upperclassmen years on campus.

CAS freshman Remi Parker said she was happy to see that anybody in the NYU community can put forth suggestions as to how NYU can become more affordable.

“If you don’t let everyone come, you’re not gonna hear everyone’s voices and the change is not gonna reflect what people actually want,” Parker said.  

The Steering Committee has also set up a website where members of the NYU community can post ideas and others can give them an up or down vote and respond with comments.

Administrative manager Emily Gadd said the website has been a wonderful mechanism.

“Seeing the community interact with each other on the ideas has been great,” Gadd said.

Over the summer, the Steering Committee and working group will begin to vet the best and most feasible ideas put forth online and in the sessions. Schall hopes to announce some quick wins  in the fall that can be implemented throughout the semester. For larger-scaled reforms, she plans to hold off until next year.

Schall attributes the abundance of ideas received thus far to the inclusiveness of the brainstorming sessions.

“I think this is an example of the administration demonstrating their openness to ideas from any part of the community,” Schall said.

The final “How Might We…?” public brainstorming session will be held Tuesday, April 26 from 10-11 a.m. in Kimmel Room 914.

Email Kyle Sturmann at [email protected].

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