Members of NYU’s Student Labor Action Movement attempted to deliver a letter to President Andrew Hamilton yesterday urging him to place a student on the Board of Trustees.
Three members of SLAM waited for 15 minutes in the lobby of Elmer Holmes Bobst Library demanding to be met by Hamilton before being escorted by NYU Public Safety to the twelfth floor where they were met by Senior Vice President for University Relations and Public Affairs Lynne Brown. The members of SLAM were told Hamilton was away in Washington D.C. and Brown promised the delivery of the letter to Hamilton.
The letter said SLAM’s resolute resolve was undying in its quest to get a student on the Board of Trustees and promised continued efforts despite previous setbacks.
SLAM has pursued this goal for several years now.
“The necessary condition for any university to further ideals of prosperity and excellence is the presence of a student body,” the letter said. “We hope in time you will manifest this realization with the introduction of elected Student Trustees.”
CAS junior and SLAM member Rose Asaf said activists’ demands can take years to be met and that the group hoped the continued pressure on Hamilton would force the issue forward.
“SLAM’s model of direct action is escalatory, which means that we begin with low level actions such as this and if our demands are not met we will escalate,” Asaf said. “What that looks like, we’re not sure.”
Past examples of actions include walkouts, sit-ins and building occupations.
“We want to make him listen,” CAS freshman and SLAM member Marley Kinser said. “We don’t know if he’ll respond but we have to press the issue.”
Last year the Student Senators Council passed a resolution that would place a student on the Board of Trustees, but the resolution never made it to the floor of the University Senate, a requisite step in NYU’s legislative process.
Earlier in the day Mayor Bill de Blasio endorsed SLAM’s goal of placing a student on the Board of Trustees as he did in 1983 when he was a student at NYU.
“Students should be able to have more knowledge about the Board of Trustees’ meetings,” de Blasio said in a March 1983 WSN article. ”They should be able to express their ideas and hear the proceedings. Input is the issue.”
NYU spokesperson Matt Nagel said the Board of Trustees is receptive to student demands and noted that a little less than 80 percent of universities do not have students on their boards.
“The university continues to respectfully disagree with this position,” he said. “The Board of Trustees remains committed to having board members who are prepared to take a holistic perspective, so they can make judgments based on the well being of the university as a whole and all of its stakeholders.”
Email Sayer Devlin at [email protected]