On-campus Tisch students commuting to far-away acting studios for their classes have been awarded stipends for MetroCards, according to an email sent by Tisch dean Allyson Green last month.
The announcement of the scholarship follows a petition with more than 1,500 signatures, started by Tisch senior Emily Goes in September. The petition demanded MetroCard subsidies for Tisch acting students who live on campus and have to commute to studios up to a 45-minute walk away that are unaccessible by NYU shuttle routes. The scholarship covers costs for studios that require coming and going three times a week — Adler, Atlantic and the New Studio on Broadway — all of which are a substantial distance from NYU’s Washington Square campus. Students tend to have class in studios three to five times a week
“These students presented a special, disparate situation: they incurred additional transportation costs that their peers also living on campus but assigned to other studios did not, and so Dean Green sought to rectify this gap,” Tisch Dean of Student Affairs Dean Robert Cameron said in a statement to WSN.
Without the scholarship, subway commutes to the three studios generate total costs of up to $231 for students over a 14-week semester. For Tisch students, who already have to pay the highest tuition among students of any NYU school, the costs add a significant burden, students said.
“Eligible students will have 86% of their additional transportation costs subsidized under this plan,” Dean Green said in an email to qualifying students. “We assume that many students will avail themselves of discounted multiple-ride MetroCards, bringing their costs closer to the $200 figure.”
While Goes expressed gratefulness that her efforts received an administrative response at all, she was not pleased by the conditions of the new scholarship. She said students who live off-campus often do so because they cannot afford on-campus housing, which can cost anywhere from $4,250 per semester for a low-cost triple at Rubin Residence Hall — which only houses first-years — to $11,386 for a single in Alumni Residence Hall.
“It just baffles me that Tisch truly believed that the solution to this longing for financial security was to exclusively reward those who can afford on-campus housing,” said Goes, who works two jobs while enrolled in 21 credits this semester in an effort to graduate early and lessen tuition costs. “There are students who live on campus and are receiving the scholarship that are in the 1%.”
The email sent to students receiving the scholarship by Green thanked all those who brought the issue to administration and referenced multiple consultations with university officials.
“You presented your views with admirable vigor, clarity and civility,” the email stated, addressing students. “No one was in doubt that you were right; I am only sorry it took so long to arrive at a solution.”
Although she was the creator of the petition, Goes did not receive the email because she lives off-campus and was not eligible for the scholarship. Amidst the commotion of students discovering whether or not they received the scholarship at her studio, the New Studio on Broadway, Goes said she felt disheartened and confused.
“I wish those who did not receive the scholarship received some form of a letter of explanation, or a letter of hope,” Goes said. “Off-campus students never received any hope or recognition.”
Tisch third-year Sorosh Wein is a recipient of the scholarship who commutes from his dorm, Greenwich Hotel Residence Hall, to the Stella Adler Studio of Acting.
“I think they did well but I think they could also do better,” Wein said, referencing the lack of resources for off-campus students. “Once again this institution should tune into the issues of the students — they serve us.”
Tisch Chairperson Ruben Polendo responded to complaints about the new scholarship at a Drama Student Council meeting the night that the scholarship was announced. According to Goes, Polendo said students who choose to live off-campus have already decided to take on the inconvenience of commuting.
“I thought that was a terribly generalized statement and looked on the NYU website for answers, but I failed to find any information [that] alluded to his statement on the NYU campus,” Goes said.
Goes said she has emailed the administrators involved to extend her thanks and make clear that she will continue voicing her opinion, as she believes Tisch is not living up to what it has assured students in the past.
“NYU says that they ‘are here to deliver on the promise that all students will have the support and resources they need to thrive in this dynamic learning environment,’” Goes said. “With peace and optimism in my heart, I say that, frankly, this promise is being broken.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, November 11, 2019 print edition. Email Lisa Cochran at [email protected]