Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and close economic advisor, not only graduated from NYU Law in 2007, but he also owns property throughout the university.
The Puck Building at 295 Lafayette St. has office spaces dedicated to the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and the Department of Sociology, and it is owned by Kushner Companies, a real estate firm co-owned by Kushner and his father. His parents Seryl and Charles Kushner additionally donated a student lounge to NYU Law’s Vanderbilt Hall at 40 Washington Square South.
While NYU’s ties to Trump have troubled students this past semester, in an official statement regarding international students issued by NYU President Andrew Hamilton, he alerted the NYU community to the steps the university would take to ensure the safety and protection of its students from countries included in Trump’s travel ban.
Following Trump’s election to the presidency, Kushner’s former NYU Law classmates wrote him a letter that urged him to influence the Trump administration in in positive ways: addressing environmental concerns; assisting the Muslim, immigrant, Black and LGBTQ communities; and bringing greater advocacy to help other vulnerable populations.
Shawn Amsler, a Schack Institute of Real Estate adjunct instructor in the School of Professional Studies, said that the university’s code of ethics should match the ethics of its current students and alumni.
“It is important for a university to adhere to the ethics deemed appropriate by the two biggest constituencies — the students and the alumni,” Amsler said. “Now, on which side of that fence [Kushner] falls on, I can say that I am not well enough informed to be able to make a determination.”
Amsler also said that he believes the university should only bring its business to corporations whose ethics align with its own.
SPS freshman Ryan Jackloski studies real estate, and he thinks NYU has no grounds to discontinue business with Kushner, unless there is evidence that he is directly associated with unethical policy.
“If we could prove Kushner’s influence on Trump or point to a specific policy he had authority over, and it was something that went against the values that NYU stands for — in that case I think that NYU could take a more firm stance and consider pulling out of office space from the building,” Jackloski said. “But, I think it would be something that would have to be considered super carefully — it would have to go through a ton of different committees to even be considered.”
University Spokesperson John Beckman said that the university is grateful for the generous past donations from the Kushner family and that NYU does not apply politics to business. He also said that the agreement, which gives office space to Wagner faculty members in the Puck Building, was enacted before any member of the Trump or Kushner family entered the political world.
“We do not apply a political litmus test to those with whom we do business, but rather evaluate a business agreement on its business terms,” Beckman said. “In any case, it is irrelevant here — the university’s renting of property owned by the Kushner family pre-dates the presidential election by over a decade.”
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