In the five months he’s been president, Andrew Hamilton’s short tenure here at NYU has resulted in plenty of responses from us at the Washington Square News Editorial Board. Certain choice actions have received plenty of praise, such as the formation of the Affordability Steering Committee, the freezing of tuition increases and the creation of “How might we…?” events. Yet, many in the student community are concerned with the lack of actual implementation that has occurred. Hamilton has certainly proposed many idealistically sound plans, but it is still too soon to tell whether this is merely talk. Now that Hamilton is at the end of his grace period, the university expects to see some real change soon.
Over the last six months, Hamilton has made affordability the cornerstone of his administration. Several town hall meetings and the ASC’s public forum demonstrate Hamilton’s efforts to keep his ear to the ground concerning NYU’s rising cost of attendance. On the policy side, Hamilton has capped tuition growth at 2.9 percent and frozen costs of housing and meal plans for the 2016-2017 academic year. But Hamilton himself has noted that these are merely stopgap measures — the university’s financial woes are rooted in our dismal endowment. Commitment to affordability is a step in the right direction, but the total impact of these measures have yet to be realized.
Hamilton has thrown olive branches aplenty in the form of town halls and public discussions. Interacting with the student body is a valuable sign of engagement and may win popularity points, but it is not a substitute for direct involvement in the policy process. Instead, student leaders need to directly collaborate with the administration whilst regularly informing the student body about the details of policies under consideration. Public discussions make for good PR, but the administration needs to institutionalize student involvement in order to further progress.
In a way, this first semester has been Hamilton’s learning period. He studied the particularities of our university, put in a few stopgap measures and defined his priorities as president. Between the numerous public forums, the meet-and-greets, the regular emails and the ASC’s online idea forum, Hamilton’s attentiveness to the community has been a far cry from Sexton’s rather curt town halls. But as the new semester looms, the time to just learn is over. Now is the time to start doing. And with the release of the ASC report in the fall, Hamilton will have a plan that we’ll be able to hold him accountable for. Ultimately, this upcoming semester will demonstrate whether this administration has become the standard-bearer for the students or the new face of an old regime.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, May 2 print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at [email protected]