Diversity is a refrain that NYU often touts, whether through admissions letters, Weekend on the Square, convocation or commencement. As a global university, NYU has campuses in 13 international locations and students from 83 countries. NYU clearly has plenty of geographical diversity, but what diversity of thought exists among the student population?
In accordance with its mission to host free entertainment for the NYU community, NYU’s Program Board explores this question. explores this question with its YouTube series “NYU PB ASKS.” Program Board Lectures Chair and CAS senior Kavi Wijayaratne visits locations around campus — from the seventh floor of Kimmel Center for University Life to the middle of Washington Square Park, explaining diversity of thought at the university. Wijayaratne hosts the series as Gallatin first-year Julia Cruz sits behind the camera and edits the footage for the channel. How are NYU students entertaining themselves? What kinds of artists are they interested in? Wijayaratne asks these questions on behalf of the Program Board.
“With NYU being so large and spread out, I wanted to gauge what students like and find out the spectrum of interests that exist,” Wijayaratne told WSN. “I also understood that the international population at NYU is enormous, and I wanted to represent them as well. With this series, I hope I can create a broader sense of community.”
Program Board hosts events like the Mystery Concert, Violet 100 and Strawberry Fest annually, as well as other programming for the community with committees such as arts, lectures and film. Program Board has brought artists such as Chance the Rapper, Future, 21 Savage and most recently, Young Thug to campus. In order to effectively carry out this undertaking, Program Board’s chairs must maintain an acute understanding of what waves the NYU community is riding.
The first two episodes of Wijayaratne’s YouTube series asks students what they watch on Netflix and what music they listen to.
“I think music and Netflix are things most, if not all, students like so I thought, ‘Hey let’s just ask what people think,’” Wijayaratne said. “I don’t want people to feel shy even if their interests are old, weird, foreign or whatever else that does not fit in the mainstream.”
Program Board specializes in not fitting into the mainstream by securing artists on the verge of blowing up.
Wijayaratne’s senior status restricts him from continuing the series he launched this year, but he hopes current and future Program Board members will continue to post installments. He sees it as necessary to Program Board’s mission of catering to students’ interests and Program Board’s tradition of archiving the artistic interests of the student body.
“I wanted to really understand the students that go here because I think their artistic interests are important,” he said. “The people that graduate from NYU are usually very successful whereever they end up so documenting them during their time here made sense. I want to watch my videos 20 years from now and say, ‘I look f-cking weird but this is what NYU was like in 2018.’”
From “Insecure” to LCD Soundsystem and “Shameless” to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, students’ answers to these questions are as far reaching as NYU’s endless campuses, making for a complicated yet captivating community.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 16 print edition. Email Anubhuti Kumar at [email protected]