Yesterday’s town hall with NYU President Andrew Hamilton was supposed to cover affordability issues, but students protesting NYU’s failure to become an official sanctuary campus took over the event and forced dialogue towards their issue instead. While what these students have to say is extremely important, hijacking an event meant to help address another very large issue on campus is not a smart way to create constructive dialogue.
The safety, security and well-being of students should always be the priority of a university, and the lives of immigrant students who need the school’s continued protection should absolutely be at the forefront of university policy right now. However, to bring up the safety of immigrant students with jeering and chants of “shame” is not how students should encourage this. It takes away from the vital discussion that could be happening and in turn is counterintuitive to the civil discourse that is desired. Hamilton’s responses to in-depth questions on the matter was less than heartening and provided no reassurance to the many people who may be affected in the near future by travel bans and deportations.
It is absolutely understandable that people are extremely frustrated, especially when the well-being of their fellow students is on the line. However, this is by no means the way to express frustration. Affordability at NYU is still a pressing issue that deserves proper time, genuine respect and productive dialogue. It does not matter whether students are protected by NYU if they cannot afford to attend the university. In the same light, it does not matter if a student can afford to be at NYU if they are not protected here. Either way, each issue deserves its own time for civil discussion.
The town hall event that happened was scheduled for a genuine purpose. Affordability remains a massive issue that affects every one of us. If the NYU student body will not allow certain issues to be discussed in a civil way, how can they then expect that from Hamilton with regard to sanctuary campuses? Protecting immigrant students is imperative, and NYU’s refusal to become an official sanctuary campus is a valid point of contention, but this was no way to bring it up. And despite their best intentions, these students may have hurt the cause they are fighting so hard for. The shame they so loudly yelled should be on their own shoulders.
Email Thomas Price at [email protected]