Of all the clubs and organizations on campus, perhaps the most vocal is NYU’s Student Labor Action Movement. In the past, the club has been successful in using peaceful protesting to obtain a $15 minimum wage for on campus jobs. In addition, SLAM has been actively involved in getting Adidas — who makes many articles of NYU apparel — to pay severances for sweatshop-related incidents. Currently, SLAM is working tirelessly — and has been foroverayear— to elect students to the Board of Trustees. Unfortunately, they have not been as successful. President Andrew Hamilton continues to state that placing students on the board would create a conflict of interest. However, as SLAM’s protest yesterday in the middle of Alumni Day and Parents’ Weekend pointed out, this argument is absurd.
Among the listed individuals that SLAM focused on, many have clear conflicts of interest in being on the board. One of those members is William Berkeley, the board’s current chair. SLAM called out Berkeley as someone “who got rich off of predatory student loans and fossil fuels.” Other members with questionable commitments are Anthony Welters, “whose fracking company corrupted and poisoned native communities” and John Paulson “who got rich off of the 2008 housing crisis and the Puerto Rican debt crisis.” The university has not made an effort to dispute these claims. Instead, the administration continues to push the message that students on the board would be problematic, seemingly ignoring the troubled backgrounds of many current members. After all, one of the trustees, John Paulson, has been affiliated with Donald Trump — which may have influenced the university’s reaction towards Trump’s statements about DACA.
SLAM’s demands are not unreasonable. Other universities across the country have students on their Boards of Trustees. Universities such as Ohio University, Purdue University, Southern Methodist University, Indiana University and the State University of New York allow students to be trustees. These universities encourage students to directly participate in shaping their universities’ futures. Students are not disregarded as conflicts of interest because every member of all Boards of Trustees, regardless of position, is explicitly trained to prioritize the best interests of the institutions. These students facilitate communications between the student community and the board. Additionally, student trustees have the opportunity to gain experience in leadership and network with leaders in various fields.
Despite Hamilton’s opinion, students can be unbiased in the decision-making process in the Board of Trustees. This argument sounds like an excuse to avoid full disclosure of how NYU is spending its money. But students have the right to know what is happening — after all, it is our money and our university. This publication has come forward in support of SLAM many times, and it is a shame that Hamilton still does not recognize the necessity of having a student on the board. President Hamilton, there is no reason this should not happen. The Board of Trustees needs student representatives.
A version of this appeared in the Monday, Oct. 23 print edition.
Email the WSN Editorial Board at [email protected]