Students enjoyed afternoon tea with NYU President Andrew Hamilton during his Tuesday, Oct. 18 town hall. Rather than following the traditional Q&A format, Hamilton preluded the session with a panel moderated by Vice Chancellor for Global Programs and University Life Linda Mills about affordability and how to strengthen the global network. Chair of the Student Senators Council Ryan Thomas then moderated the Q&A portion that alternated between questions from social media using the hashtag #TeaWithAndy and inquiries from people at the event. Here are the top five issues discussed at the event:
Menstrual Hygiene Products
Thomas asked the last question of the panel on behalf of many curious students — the prospects of free menstrual hygiene products on campus. When presented the question, Hamilton took time to make sure that students knew he understood the issue on hand but did not provide information on any university plans to combat it.
“Let me say that I understand the issue,” Hamilton said. “Obviously everything in life has a financial consequence, and the argument being made is that menstrual hygiene products are a financial burden on our female students.”
But he said that the university first had to conduct a detailed analysis of what the costs of implementations are and what the university would have to give up to fund this additional cost.
Students from both abroad and New York City raised concerns about the cost of living at NYU. The topic of students experiencing homelessness was also raised in one of the questions, and Hamilton said that the university is making efforts, such as with the 700 additional low cost on-campus beds and with the intergenerational housing idea released in the recent Affordability Steering Committee report.
He attributed the lack of affordable options to the university’s dearth of available space.
“NYU has half the academic space per student compared to Columbia in the same city,” Hamilton said. “That Mercer Street building [Coles] is a decompression more than an expansion.”
He said that in addition to increasing the affordability of living in New York City, the university is also exploring cheaper options at its study away sites, such as with home stays.
Dentistry graduate student Jenny Jeon opened the conversation when she suggested that the university invite inspirational financial speakers to the campus.
“People don’t want to do them [mandatory certificates],” Jeon said. “So if we invite someone who is inspirational — such as the author of ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ — we could make it inspirational and have a bigger impact on people who want to learn about financial education.”
She said that a series of motivational speakers could possibly start a revolution to better spending within this expensive metropolitan city, and Hamilton agreed with Jeon’s point. He added that words such as mandatory sometimes make it harder to get people in a university setting — students, parents, faculty and staff — to feel motivated.
“We are always looking for inspirational speakers,” Hamilton said. “There aren’t so many of them but finding people who can present subjects in a way that’s compelling and people can immediately see the benefits from taking notes from really paying attention.”
In addition to discussing the new Chief Diversity Officer position, Hamilton was faced with a new issue: India and Pakistan relations. CAS senior Danish Ahmed Aamir asked Hamilton during the Q&A session to help him with his conference to unite Indians and Pakistanis, two historically contentious countries.
“What you’re describing is absolutely what should be happening at a university,” Hamilton said in response to Aamir. “That’s what the global network is for around the world. I’m proud of the large number of international students in our community, and if it brings Indian and Pakistani people together somewhere other than the cricket pitch, that’s a very good thing.”
During his inauguration, Hamilton said that rather than expanding the university more, his focus would be on strengthening the existing network, which he reiterated during afternoon tea. However, he did state the explicit goal of elevating Tandon and the school’s science department into the top 20 nationwide.
Hamilton said, “You cannot have a strong university without strength across the board.”
He said that the goal of an NYU education in this rapidly-changing society is to prepare students not only with the proper scholarly knowledge to work in desired fields but also to provide enough cognitive skills to know how to adapt in volatile situations.
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