Hamilton discusses student safety at town hall

University president Andrew Hamilton and NYU administrators addressed student questions during a virtual town hall hosted by the university’s Student Government Assembly on Monday, Nov. 14.


Andrew Hamilton addressed a variety of topics in a virtual town hall held via Zoom. (Courtesy of Yezen Saadah)

Yezen Saadah, Senior Staff Writer

NYU president Andrew Hamilton joined other university administrators to address a recent intruder on campus, the potential relocation of a local Morton Williams supermarket and ongoing international conflicts during a virtual town hall hosted by student government on Monday, Nov. 14.

Campus Safety concerns and community engagement

Student government chair Ron Hall spoke with Hamilton and Campus Safety head Fountain Walker about resources and initiatives to address a string of on-campus assaults earlier this year, which were suspected to have been motivated by anti-Asian racism. Hamilton said that improving campus security requires communication between the administration, Campus Safety and city officials.

“This is a very large and sometimes challenging city,” Hamilton said. “The Campus Safety organization is one that has authority within our buildings, but no authority on the streets of New York.”

Walker discussed the department’s communication with external partners, including the Hate Crimes Task Force of the New York City Police Department, during incidents of discrimination. He said that Campus Safety has been conducting bystander intervention training for identity-based harassment, adding that the department works closely with NYPD precincts surrounding Washington Square Park.

“Safety is for everyone — it doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like or where you’re from,” Walker said. 

Hall and Walker briefly spoke about a recent incident at Alumni Hall and Coral Tower, in which an intruder evaded dorm security twice in one night. Following the incident, WSN reported that a Coral resident said they were not taken seriously when they told Campus Safety officers that they may have come in contact with the perpetrator inside the building.

Although Walker encouraged students to voice their concerns on the department’s website, he did not provide more details about the incident or the investigation into it that the university said it would conduct.

In April, an intruder entered Rubin Hall and stayed in the dorm’s lounges overnight twice in one week. Campus Safety apologized to residents about its handling of the incident. 

Global conflicts and studying abroad

Hamilton addressed NYU’s responsibility to address global conflicts, such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine and tensions between the United States and China. He went on to discuss NYU’s commitment to being a global university.

“It’s a long-term commitment, and while we might be going through some trying times throughout the world with various tensions in play and dominating the political discourse, I think that makes it all the more important,” Hamilton said. 

Josh Taylor, the associate vice chancellor for global programs and mobility, highlighted steps the university is taking to support students’ families and NYU groups impacted by political crises and natural disasters, including the recent devastating floods in Pakistan. He encouraged students struggling with visa-related issues to contact the Office of Global Services and the Immigrant Defense Initiative at NYU Law. He also mentioned plans to develop and expand resources for students studying abroad. 

“One of the things we worked very hard to do was to make sure that regardless of what major a student is, they have opportunities to study abroad,” interim provost Georgina Dopico said. “The rapid technological deployment we saw during COVID with online courses is another way students can complete a semester abroad.”

Lessons from the pandemic and other student concerns

Ciotoli called for students to be flexible with the university’s senior leadership regarding COVID-19 and its lasting impacts. Zoe Ragouzeos, the senior associate vice president of mental health and sexual misconduct support, noted the importance of in-person connections and the benefits of hybrid health care.

University leadership also discussed recent developments concerning Morton Williams, a local supermarket at risk of demolition due to NYU’s expansion plans. Earlier this month, the university committed to either saving the existing supermarket or finding it a new location nearby.

The student government will also be hosting a sustainability town hall in the Kimmel Center for University Life on Wednesday, Nov. 16, and plans to hold another town hall with Hamilton next semester.

Contact Yezen Saadah at [email protected].