NYU Law Faces Backlash After Eliminating Alumni From Listserv

A petition by an NYU Law alumnus to keep the current listserv has garnered over 180 signatures from students and alumni.

The entrance to Vanderbilt Hall, which houses NYU School of Law. (Photo by Tony Wu)

An NYU School of Law alumnus has started a petition after the school declared that its listserv, Coases, would be replaced by a Google group only accessible to current students on Wednesday night.

Coases is an email list that connects students and alumni. It is used for anything from networking to selling items to discussing controversies members see as pertinent to the law school community.

After receiving an email from Dean of Student Affairs Jason Belk, 2018 NYU Law graduate Andrew Gerst drafted a petition urging the university to keep the current listserv. The petition currently has 183 signatures from students and alumni.

Gerst said that he does not see a problem with the current listserv, and believes that alumni should continue to have access.

“The ideal would be for them to keep Coases accessible,” Gerst said. “I can say I’m on Coases and I’ve been on Coases for years, and it has not been a problem for anyone.”

The petition claims that the change is a form of retaliation by the administration after a debate concerning Israel and Palestine that occurred on the listserv in 2015 subjected the law school to scrutiny. Gerst cited the timing of talks to change the listserv, which occurred in 2016, as the main reasoning behind this claim.

NYU School of Law Spokesperson Michael Orey said the university had planned to phase out Coases in 2016, but did not attribute this to the 2015 listserv exchange on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“We learned the University was planning to phase out the platform supporting the old Coases in early 2016,” the statement reads. “Since then, we have worked with student leaders and our IT team to transition to a new platform that we determined would only be accessible to current students. We are in discussion with alumni about other ways for them to remain engaged with the Law School community.”

Alumna Jacqueline Horani, who signed the petition, said that she saw the listserv as a way for alumni and students to have a “continued thread of experiences across graduate years,” and that she did not approve of the law school making the change.

“I am confused as to why the law school wants to disincentivize alumni interaction,” Horani said. “Especially as they continue to rally for funding from alumni.”

Law School Senator David Moosmann said the change raised the question of whether alumni and students should have a platform to directly interact or if such exchanges should occur through other law school programs and centers.

Moosmann recognized that alumni who do interact with students regularly have cause for concern but said he expects the law school to come up with an alternative after they make the change to Coases.

“My own personal view is that I favor having some means of direct contact between students and alumni,” Moosmann said. “So I hope whatever policy that ultimately takes shape will be sensitive to the strongly expressed concerns of the alumni and students who’ve spoken in favor of retaining Coases or something like it.”

Email Victor Porcelli and Meghna Maharishi at [email protected].

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