Students are one step closer to having a seat at the boardroom table. In a 17-8 victory for NYU’s Student Labor Action Movement today — better known as SLAM — the Student Senators Council voted in favor of a resolution that would allow students on the Board of Trustees.
“Our campaign has continued to gain the support of students and organizations across campus,” SLAM said in a statement to WSN before today’s vote. “Just this past week the campaign has been endorsed by, among others, NYU Dream Team, the Muslim Students Association and Asian Heritage Month. It is clear that the student body demands change.”
The resolution entitled “Creation of Elected Student Board of Trustee Members Resolution of the Student Senators Council,” was written by CAS sophomore and Senator at-Large Husniye Cogur. SLAM helped draft the resolution as well, which outlined the allocation of two out of 49 seats to students: one undergraduate and one graduate student for one two-year term each.
“The current structure of New York University is insufficient in representing the needs and concerns of the student body as demonstrated from the past year of recentering the university on questions of equity among other principles,” the resolution said.
Now that it won over the SSC, it will face the University Senate next, which consists of 137 voting members: 37 Student Senators, 67 faculty members and 33 administrators, such as NYU President Andrew Hamilton who holds a position on the Senate Executive Committee.
Cogur said that she was elated that the students voted in favor of the resolution the first time it was presented to them.
“I just teared up inside, because this is a fight that has been going on for literally decades,” Cogur said. “There have been students who have tried to get this through, and it hasn’t even come to a vote in SSC.”
Although she believes it is unlikely that the University Senate will ratify the resolution, the SSC vote was still effective in sending a strong message about students’ wishes to the University Senate, administration and Board of Trustees. This contrasts with Hamilton, who spoke against allowing students on the Board of Trustees during an interview with WSN in November 2016.
While this is symbolic among the university, CAS senior Brandon Camacho said that he has reservations about the vote passing through the University Senate. Camacho serves as a student senator in the SSC.
“This isn’t the first time that the SSC has proposed this resolution, and in the past it hasn’t gone through,” Camacho said. “So I’m worried that the [University Senate] will vote to not ratify it.”
Camacho said that he supported the resolution because he felt that the resolution would increase student influence at NYU by making the Board of Trustees more transparent — but that it would only happen if the University Senate also votes in favor.
“As a whole, we need someone on there,” Camacho said. “The minutes aren’t published to the public — this is our way to make sure from the top to the bottom that there is student input and students acting as watchdogs to the administration.”
CAS senior Drew Weber, who is a leading organizer of SLAM, said the vote today proves that students are in favor of incorporating students in the Board of Trustees. Weber also said that he hopes the University Senate will take the students’ input seriously.
“The University Senate will be one more step on the way to a more transparent and accountable university,” Weber said. “We are confident in our ability to get it done and will be beginning this process promptly. The vote today proves that we have students on our side.”
Cogur said the result of the vote is especially gratifying considering the SSC’s history of trying to pass resolutions similar to this one.
“Mayor Bill de Blasio, when he was at NYU, was trying to fight for this, so it is something that has been going on,” Cogur said. “To be the first senate to get this past the student government is an amazing feeling.”
Additional reporting by Adriana Tapia. Email Sayer Devlin at [email protected].