We recognize the representation of the frustration of the student body that is interwoven throughout your article as real and urgent. The task force is a representative body of students, faculty and staff, and our only goal is a more equitable, diverse and inclusive NYU. There is always room to communicate more fully, and we strive to do so while working diligently to reimagine and construct the way we send information to the NYU community.
That said, there is a lot more that goes into our decisions than your editorial implies. There are many groups, policies and strategies to consider with the delicate work we have all volunteered to do in the spirit of creating a better environment and home of NYU, one that we may not even see in the way we envision it at our time here. We have all signed on to the Task Force acknowledging that this work, while urgent, is a project of deep-rooted change that reaches into the whole culture of NYU. We have reflected not only on our own communities within the university but on other universities to search for best practices. As you all know, NYU is an intensely complex place.
With all of that in mind we are at odds with the article, which ignored quite a bit of the above. The language of the editorial was incendiary with little factual information, a source of regret and puzzlement as WSN chose to not let facts get in the way of their opinion pieces. Student voices from the Task Force, like Juan Manuel Calero Canaval, were excluded and after reading their responses we worry that this exclusion was because it did not fit into the “goal” of your article. There were in fact concrete steps taken at the recommendation of the Task Force that include the appointment of the University’s first chief of diversity (search now underway); the University’s first climate survey on issues related to diversity (survey now being developed); the launching of a bias response line; and more funds, personnel, and space for CMEP all explicitly outlined in the Black and Brown Coalition’s list of demands. Moreover, the Task Force has issued community-wide communications, has established a website, and has made presentations to the University Senate — which the WSN has been and still is free to cover. To make sure clarity is abundant, this is not to say we have done enough, especially in the realm of communication, but to clear up any misconceptions of inactivity. These items were also discussed at the special inauguration event on equity, diversity and inclusion, which directly addressed task force progress, including discussing work to address student concerns — not only those that emerged in demands last year, but issues that students have raised since.
If there was some confusion about the report presented to the Senate last April, the WSN had ample opportunity to raise it — the chairs sat down with the WSN for an hour last week, and there was not a single question about the substance of the presentation. This concern could have also been raised with the student interviews that occurred. We are frustrated and saddened that the WSN has confused its failures to fully and accurately cover an issue with an actual failure of transparency.
While the article provided little if any constructive suggestions, it has served to reinforce reflection and action in not only our future interactions and communications with our community but in the way we envision our mission and charge.
Vincent Vance is the student co-chair of the Diversity Task Force.