During NYU’s Weekend on the Square — the university’s event for admitted students — multiple student-led protests by SLAM, IEC and NYU Divest disrupted some of the events planned for the incoming Class of 2021. While these protests may have led to some discomfort and awkwardness for future students and the university, they helped to show a more accurate representation of what attending NYU is like.
Weekend on the Square gives incoming freshmen a look into what they can expect of their next four years at NYU. While admitted students days are traditionally informational, giving incoming classes a look at what attending the university will be like, NYU has made sure that the picture it paints of itself is a glowing one. WOTS is filled with endless balloons, photo opportunities and free food. In addition, guests often use the weekend to tour residence halls and other school facilities. At times, this weekend can create an overly idealized portrayal of life at NYU. WOTS makes it easy to think that an NYU student’s typical day consists of a carefree life in the middle of beautiful Greenwich Village. However, the protesters at this year’s event gave some insight into the more realistic aspects of life at NYU including its lack of sanctuary campus status and student representation on the board of trustees.
Protests and social activism are a well-known part of both New York City and NYU’s reputations. In the past academic year, NYU has been the site of numerous protests covering a range of topics from university life to national news. The university is home to many protest groups and activist organizations, including Student Labor Action Movement, NYU Sanctuary Campus and NYU Divest. These groups have organized dozens of protests, including the recent efforts to make NYU an official sanctuary campus and nationwide protests like the pro-Planned Parenthood rallies. In contrast to the sanitized, conflict-free image that WOTS propagates, the protests this weekend provided an accurate representation of an important piece of NYU life. These protests are essential to making sure that NYU is held accountable for its entire reputation — not just the shining one of state-of-the-art facilities and an exclusive downtown campus.
The protests from groups such as SLAM and NYU Divest are a part of the large activist community so present at NYU, and their appearance at Weekend on the Square gave every prospective student a look at the passion of the students and the reality of being at this university. While it may not line up with the picture-perfect image that is presented to them during the weekend, their place at NYU should be celebrated and not condemned.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 24 print edition.
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