Andrew Hamilton sent an email on Thursday updating the NYU community about the university’s diversity initiatives.
The statement — titled “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” — outlines the university’s dedication to building a respectful culture that embraces diversity. The statement recognizes previous shortcomings in NYU’s approach to diversity and says that this awareness will strengthen commitment toward taking tangible steps in the direction of acceptance.
Students such as CAS freshman and Rubin Hall council president Shraddha Jajal thinks this is a positive addition to NYU’s diversity efforts. She believes it will help NYU continue its efforts to make the university an inclusive environment for all its students.
“I think this just helps reassure us as students that we are safe where we are,” Jajal said. “And no matter how the next four years turn out, NYU will always be there for us and will always support its students regardless of what our background is.”
Jajal said that the Rubin student government board [email protected] will now consider the Diversity Statement when planning future events for Rubin residents.
“I think it’s just that we forget that not everyone has not grown up in the same way we have and we tend to suppress minorities even if we do not mean to do so,” Jajal said. “So in response to the new diversity statement, the hall council will definitely be talking about this in our next meeting as well as trying to promote it throughout the hall because we do not want anyone to feel as though they do not belong.”
CAS senior and member of the Black and Brown Coalition Juan Manuel Calero Canaval said that it is significant for important changes and movements to start with the students.
“Whether things meaningfully change has always been up to student leadership,” Canaval said. “Universities exist to serve and educate every generation, and inasmuch the future in general is in our hands, so is the university’s future. While obviously there will always be push back on a number of issues from the powers that be, we students should not be afraid to make our needs heard and make demands to be met.”
Steinhardt freshman and member of the Third North Student Government Chris Friedman said that he has seen the biases mentioned in the statement manifest themselves in his classes on multiple occasions, which is why people should take this statement seriously.
“And since the city we live in and the school we attend is so liberal, it is important that we remember Andrew Hamilton’s words about inclusion,” Friedman said. “So even if we disagree with someone else’s values or opinions, I think it’s more important than ever to realize our social responsibility to uphold this important tenant of a diverse community, as members of one.”
CAS senior and Muslim Student Association president Afraz Khan said that the statement does a good job in reaffirming the university’s commitment to diversity, but he is unsure how the statement will affect NYU’s environment.
“I cannot say whether this statement will have any immediate impact on our campus climate and how well minority groups are taken into account in future,” Khan said. “I do think this statement is a way for the larger NYU community to gain more insight into how the administration plans to pursue change in the coming months.”
Khan said that he appreciated how the statement acknowledged the need to build structures to promote inclusiveness, especially among colleagues from marginalized groups. However, he believes that progress starts with concrete progress.
“I am happy to know that the university is updating its focus and purpose in regards to diversity at NYU,” Khan said. “But until these principles are implemented through concrete steps, minority groups at large will continue to experience various forms of bias, hate and discrimination on-campus.”
CAS freshman Iffat Nur is a Muslim student, and he said that going forward the statement will come into inevitable incongruities with the idea of safe spaces, since people will have to find a balance between creating environments with free speech without creating student-enforced segregation.
“NYU is taking a stance I find favorable,” Nur said. “The idea of voices actively coming from multiple sources for discourse, making sure voices are included without anyone overpowering one another is important, and I hope that NYU will take serious steps to encourage this stance of diversity, equality and inclusion they have in mind.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Dec. 5 print edition. Email Diamond Naga at [email protected]