Student government welcomes NYU’s first dean of students

A summary of developments from the second Student Government Assembly meeting of the fall 2021 semester.


Manasa Gudavalli

The NYU Bookstore updated NYU’s Student Government Assembly on its affordability initiative, which was created to counter the high costs of textbooks and course materials. This was one of the topics discussed at the second SGA meeting of the Fall 2021 semester, which was held on Oct. 28. (Staff Photo by Manasa Gudavalli)

Maria Freyre, Staff Writer

NYU’s Student Government Assembly held its second meeting of the fall 2021 semester on Oct. 28. Topics of discussion included a bookstore affordability initiative and a new coalition between student governments of New York colleges. NYU’s first dean of students, Rafael Rodriguez, was also introduced at the meeting.

NYU Bookstore staff updates SGA on its affordability initiative

The NYU Bookstore wants to expand its affordability initiative, which was created to counter the high costs of course materials and textbooks at its bookstore and at other retailers. Through the Follett ACCESS program, students in participating courses receive digital access to their required course materials at a discounted rate on the first day of classes. 

Representatives from the NYU Bookstore, Campus Services and the Kimmel Center for University Life asked student representatives to promote the program to faculty and encourage them to apply for their courses to be included.

Kimmel Center director Sunita Devi said that as of Oct. 28, 11,000 NYU students have benefited from the program, saving over $960,000 on course materials this year. Since the program began in 2018, students have saved over $3.3 million.

“Our role is to make sure that you have the materials on day one,” Owen Moore, the associate vice president of campus services, said. “We want you to succeed, and we want to make sure that the most affordable options are available to you.”

More than 120 undergraduate and graduate courses were included in the program during the summer and fall 2021 semesters. However, these make up less than 2% of the courses, labs and recitations that NYU administers, according to NYU Bookstore director Ryan Snyder. For courses not included in the program, textbooks must be purchased at full price.

Course materials for participating classes will be charged directly to students’ bursar accounts alongside tuition payments. At the meeting, some students raised concerns about paying for books included on the syllabus that aren’t actually required for a course.

“It’s not fair to the students to make them buy something they are not going to need,” Devi said. “If you get to the class and you get through the second week and you’re like ‘I’m not going to use this, I haven’t touched it once,’ you can still opt out and it will never touch your bursar bill.”

SGA welcomes NYU’s first dean of students

SGA chairperson Mehrin Ali introduced NYU’s first dean of students, Rafael Rodriguez, who has been hired as part of the student affairs department’s restructuring. He will assume a role similar to that of former Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Marc Wais.

Jason Pina, the vice president for University Life, said he expects Rodriguez to be a point of contact for both students and university administration. Rodriguez’s main areas of oversight include Residential Life and Housing Services and the Office of Student Conduct. He is also responsible for outreach and engagement to support veteran and military service students, first generation students and students experiencing food insecurity.

“My main role here is to have some strategic face time with all of you, attending some student events, connecting with critical student leaders and our student body, and spending some time intentionally on the Brooklyn campus to connect with those students there,” Rodriguez said.

Students from New York colleges prepare demands for Mayor-Elect Eric Adams

Presidents Council Vice Chair Anthony Cruz announced a coalition between student governments of local colleges — including NYU, Columbia University, and the City University of New York colleges, among other institutions — created to amplify student voices. The coalition of student governments is drafting a letter listing priorities for Adams’ administration, which they will send to his office after his inauguration.

Cruz said the student government wants to accurately represent the priorities of NYU students, and encouraged students interested in joining the collective to reach out.

The next SGA meeting of the semester is on Nov. 18. President Andrew Hamilton will host a virtual town hall with the SGA, which is open to the student body, on Nov. 17.

Contact Maria Freyre at [email protected].