In the most recent step of the university’s rapidly evolving response to coronavirus, NYU has closed academic centers across all European study abroad sites.
Students currently studying abroad in Berlin, London, Madrid, Paris and Prague received an email Tuesday afternoon announcing closures of the academic centers at these sites. This announcement follows the email on Monday announcing a shift to remote classes across all U.S. and European campuses.
“Until now, we have left it to you and your families to determine whether or not you should remain at your current site, or return home,” the email reads. “However, several developments over the past day — including the closing of universities in Madrid and Prague — have caused us to reconsider our position. Consequently, we are writing now to inform you that we will be closing all of our academic centers in Europe until further notice.”
Gallatin senior Katie Peurrung, studying at NYU Berlin, described the campus atmosphere post-announcement as sad, angry and frustrated.
“My roommate said she heard kids crying in the halls,” Peurrung told WSN in a direct message. “It’s late here and my roommate was just face-timing the director, so the staff is working around the clock at this point.”
While the email strongly urged students to return home, it stopped short of completely closing the dorms and requiring departure. During a Town Hall at NYU Paris, students raised concerns regarding reimbursement for travel costs and foregone housing.
“We got no word on reimbursing for anything,” CAS sophomore Samantha Pinheiro said, who is at NYU Paris now and is planning to return home. “Because it is voluntary leave I think NYU is trying to not take accountability for a lot of it.”
In an earlier email offering students at all study away sites the option to return home and take classes remotely, officials stated that going home would be a voluntary step and students would be responsible for any related travel costs. The email on Tuesday said students who require financial assistance in booking tickets to return home should contact the Global Programs Office, but provided no details on the extent of financial support to be offered.
“Right now everyone is just concerned about money,” Pinheiro said. “We spent money to be here, are we going to get our housing money back? Are we going to get anything back? Because a lot of people sacrificed a lot to be here. I saved money from working for a year for me to be here.”
At the same time, Pinheiro was relieved to have a concrete recommendation because she was already considering returning home at the request of her family and their concerns over possible border closures. She also noted that the cost of living with her family would be less than if she were to remain in Paris.
CAS sophomore Terry Zhao — who is studying at NYU Prague — noticed that the email did not change the situation abroad aside from providing a more strongly worded recommendation for students to return home.
“It was kind of weird because first of all, I don’t think it was that big of a difference from the email that we got from Hamilton yesterday, at least as far as the abroad sites are concerned,” Zhao said. “I think that all they did was phrase that they want us to go home in a stronger way but they still gave us the option to stay if we wanted, in that sense what they’re asking us to do hasn’t changed.”
Zhao is unsure of whether or not he will leave the NYU Prague campus. His family is currently in China and he is unsure of his prospects in finding a flight.
“I don’t know if I can go back to China or not in this particular moment,” Zhao said. “I’m kind of stuck in limbo because I don’t really have a place to go to in the U.S.”
In addition to closing academic centers, the email notified students that all student activities, local trips and internships are now canceled.
Students enrolled in classes that are not easily transferred to online platforms are concerned about receiving credits for their courses, whether or not they decide to remain abroad. CAS sophomore Oishi Goswami, who is studying Global Public Health and sociology on the pre-med track, is taking several lab courses while abroad in London.
“There’s a lot of questions surrounding that,” Goswami said. “Whether or not I will be getting the credit for those classes and whether or not I’ll be reimbursed for those credits if I’m not able to finish those classes and if I will have to pay for them again in the future in order to get those mandatory credits for my track, so there’s just a lot of financial question marks.”
Many students were confused by the tone of the email, which at first seemed to some like a mandate to return home complete with dorm closures, similar to the fate of NYU Florence.
CAS sophomore Ted Ravago, currently studying in London, was also disoriented by the style of the email.
“It made it sound like we no longer have the choice to leave,” they said. “You would have to really read this email thoroughly to understand what’s going on. We even got together with our friends to talk it through just to make sure we understood what was going on. We saw other students clustered around in their dorm rooms trying to figure out what this meant, like ‘do we have to find a ticket now?’”
Ravago and Goswami emphasized that the NYU London staff has been supportive and Pinheiro and Peurrung said the same of NYU Paris and Berlin administrations respectively. However, they all agreed that abroad administrations were unable to provide clarification beyond what was sent out in emails to students.
“They made it very clear that we’re getting the same information as them at the same exact time,” Ravago said of the London administration.
Disclaimer: Katie Peurrung was a Multimedia Editor in fall 2018 and UTA Multimedia Editor in spring 2019.
Email Emily Mason at [email protected]