This past Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made a quick visit to NYU to revisit his glory days as a Weinstein Residence Hall student. In the midst of sharing laughs and memories with the current students living in his old room, de Blasio also made a public announcement endorsing the Students Labor Action Movement in its goal to have student representation on NYU’s Board of Trustees. It is an admirable effort that de Blasio supports SLAM’s desire to get representatives on the board, but ultimately his help will do little for the cause.
SLAM’s mission is to fight for student rights at NYU, focusing on issues surrounding student debt and unfair labor practices for both NYU students and surrounding communities at large. In the past, SLAM has made progress by winning campaigns such as their fight to increase student workers’ pays to $15 an hour, as well as their End Deathtraps campaign.
SLAM’s current endeavor is a campaign to add students to the NYU Board of Trustees. Its plan is to have a representative join the board with voting membership. While many students support the movement, SLAM have received a negative response from President Andrew Hamilton due to the potential bias this student member would have resulting from the direct impact decisions would have on them. While Hamilton is steadfast in his refusal to support the campaign, SLAM is hoping that de Blasio’s endorsement will advance its campaign in the eyes of the board.
It is unclear how de Blasio’s SLAM endorsement will change the status quo at NYU. SLAM has been trying to get a student on the Board of Trustees for quite some time now and each attempt to bring notice to the Board has either resulted in silence or a deflection away from the real issue. This makes it unlikely that the mayor, who deals with public issues, will have any authority in changing the goings-on of a private university. While his concern is appreciated, his statement to side with the NYU students is also made conveniently during his re-election campaign, and the only effect that such a statement might have is increasing de Blasio‘s noticeably low approval ratings by rallying student support.
Ultimately, there is a real understanding of what SLAM wants, and any support it can get could have many benefits. After all, the more people that support SLAM, the more attention and credibility they get in their goals for the school. Yet, the mayor’s voice does not carry enough weight in the context of this debate to set any lasting impressions on a private university such as NYU.
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