At its last meeting of the semester, the Student Government Assembly passed a letter of support against policies at NYU they claim are ageist. The letter calls on the university administration to review these policies, provide housing and childcare for older students and allocate funding to research how to best serve the older population on an urban campus.
The letter was read by Senator at-Large and Silver graduate student Amber Eden who represents older students. She originally presented the letter to the Senators Student Council two months ago, but could not pass it since the meeting did not have a quorum.
The letter stated that ageism, which is the stereotyping or discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of their age, is manifested in certain university policies and classroom attitudes.
“While NYU is usually thought of as a traditional undergraduate university, the facts are that older students, both within the undergraduate and graduate population, constitute a significant portion of the student body and provide a significant portion of revenue for the school,” Eden said.
The letter detailed the realities that older students often have to handle mortgage payments, caretaker obligations and careers that can impact school performance. It also stated that there are few scholarships available to older students.
Eden spoke to several older students and included their classroom experiences in the letter.
One mother of three was in her third trimester of pregnancy with her fourth child when she signed up for a required online course, only to find out she had to attend an in-person session one hour each week. Three days before her final exam, she delivered her child.
Students also experience ageism in the classroom in less extreme ways.
“One student who left a digital website management career to return to school was admonished on the first day of class by a professor to get with the 21st century learn how to use a computer and discard pen and paper,” Eden said.
Other older students have experienced younger students deriding them in class and professors who did not reprimand them.
“It should be noted that ageist attitudes are often shared by the professors themselves,” Eden said.
Outside of class, older students feel university services are more catered to undergraduate lifestyles. The letter states that campus health services, particularly mental health services, don’t have appointment hours in the evening., making them less accessible for working students.
SPS first-year Kody Christiansen, the newly elected undergraduate president of the School of Professional Studies, expressed his personal connection and support for the letter.
“As an older student who’s going to be on this council next semester, I just want to say thank you,” Christenson said. “I didn’t even know this was going on, and we are underrepresented as older students.”
Eden told WSN she was thrilled to see the letter pass as it was a project she has been working on throughout the year and a topic she feels strongly about.
“I personally experienced ageism when I came to NYU, and I was really surprised to find that to be the case,” Eden said. “But in the end, it was a blessing because it prompted me to join student government and become a Senator at-Large for older students to represent them.”
Other than the letter of support, Senator at-Large and CAS junior Quentin Turner mentioned that the Undergraduate Academic Affairs Committee plans to change the academic probation policy. The UAAC is officially recommending that the registrar separate external and internal transcripts.
Essentially, the change would make it so that a student’s academic probation status would only be visible on internal transcripts.
“If you’re on academic probation and you solve it — so you fix those academic grades — it will no longer be on an external transcript,” Turner said. “No one outside NYU will ever see it.”
Email Bethany Allard at [email protected]