New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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Winter recap: The news you missed at NYU over break

A recent donation to president Linda Mills’ new financial aid initiative, the end of an anti-racism workshop and all the other news on campus since you’ve been gone.
Qianshan Weng
(Qianshan Weng for WSN)

As you get ready for spring semester classes to begin, here is some news from around campus that you may have missed over the break. Read more for updates on financial aid, a canceled anti-racism workshop, an upcoming artificial intelligence center and a new labor rights initiative. 

NYU Promise receives millions in new funding

President Linda Mills’ new financial aid initiative, the NYU Promise, received $20 million in backing from the Berkley Family Foundation — created by former chair of the university’s board of trustees William Berkley — in December. The initiative, which Mills announced during her inaugural ceremony in October, will cover full tuition costs for incoming first-year undergraduate students whose families earn $100,000 or less annually.

The initiative will go into effect starting the fall 2024 semester. In addition to increasing eligibility for full scholarships, the university will meet every family’s demonstrated financial need and raise financial aid awards alongside yearly tuition increases. Mills’ financial aid effort also comes amid a 3% increase in the number of early decision applicants this year.

The new initiative is set to increase the number of students eligible for full scholarships by 23%, and is expected to help over 330 students qualify for a Pell Grant, a federal grant that does not have to be repaid, marking a 36% increase from the previous year. Over the past five years, NYU has raised the average financial aid awarded to each student by $20,000, and the university first began meeting 100% of students’ demonstrated financial need with the class of 2025.

NYU spokesperson John Beckman said the initiative does not have a planned end date, and has been built into the university’s budget. He added that NYU will also continue raising funds to support the NYU Promise.

University discontinues anti-racism workshop after equal opportunity report

The university has ended an anti-racism workshop series hosted at its Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools, housed in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, “designed for white public school parents” following criticism due to concerns over it excluding parents of color.

The six-month workshop series was intended to teach anti-racist practices through readings, discussions and other activities. A web page advertising the program, which has since been taken down, did not explicitly say people of color were not allowed to attend the program.

After the program received online attention, a report was filed with NYU’s Office of Equal Opportunity, according to university spokesperson John Beckman. Beckman said the OEO determined that program did not comply with the university’s Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policies since its “eligibility did not sufficiently ensure equal access to non-white parents.”

The university will continue to hold another Steinhardt program titled “From Integration to Anti-Racism: Building Powerful and Equitable Multiracial Parent Communities,” which is accessible to all parents regardless of their race or ethnicity, according to Beckman. 

NYU to participate in Gov. Hochul’s $400 million artificial intelligence consortium

NYU has joined six other New York institutions participating in Empire AI, a $400 million initiative intended to advance AI research and development in the state. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the initiative — which will also include Columbia University, Cornell University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the State University of New York, the City University of New York and the Simons Foundation — during her State of the State address on Jan. 8. 

The initiative, which is supported by both public and private funds, will create a computing center in upstate New York for AI research, including research related to public policy. It will be paid for by up to $275 million in state funds and more than $125 million from participating institutions and other private partners. 

“The Empire AI consortium will be transformative: bringing jobs and opportunity to New York and making us a global leader in this groundbreaking sector,” Hochul said in a press release. “Together with our partners in academia and the private sector, we’ll harness the power of artificial intelligence and ensure this technology is being used for the public interest.”

Wagner partners with government agencies to protect workers’ rights

NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service will collaborate with state and local government agencies to advance and protect workers’ rights as a part of its new Wagner Labor Initiative, which was announced on Jan. 11.

The initiative emerged as a response to deteriorating working conditions and widespread labor violations across the United States, according to attorney and initiative director Terri Gerstein. Gerstein was previously director of the State and Local Enforcement Project at Harvard Law School’s Center for Labor and a Just Economy, which will now be included in the new Wagner program. 

Staff across agencies including state attorney general offices, local labor standards offices and district attorneys’ offices are actively engaged in the initiative’s ongoing meetings. Gerstein said that there are no costs associated for government agencies to participate in the program and approximately 50 to 60 agencies involved. Gerstein also said the initiative will soon release a think tank report focusing on state policy approaches to addressing child labor violations.

“Wage theft and other violations affecting low-wage workers have countless reverberations, eroding stability for families and communities,” Gerstein said in a statement to WSN. “Greater public knowledge about workers’ rights issues will help build awareness and support for stronger worker protection laws and for increased enforcement resources.”

Contact Aashna Miharia, Adrianna Nehme, Bruna Horvath, Dharma Niles and Maisie Zipfel at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Aashna Miharia, Deputy News Editor
Aashna Miharia is a first-year studying journalism and public policy with a minor in business studies. She’s from the Boston area and a novelist, coffee enthusiast and lover of independent bookstores. You can usually find her listening to an audiobook while wandering around New York City or on Instagram @aashnamiharia.
Adrianna Nehme, News Editor
Adrianna Nehme is a sophomore still trying to decide what to major in. Originally from a small town in Indiana, she moved to Chicago, Illinois for high school — where she was also the news editor for the school paper! She loves experiencing music live at concerts, seeking restaurants to try in the city and reading fiction novels — her all-time favorite is "The Cider House Rules" by John Irving. Check out her latest adventures on Instagram @adrianna.nehme.
Bruna Horvath, News Editor
Bruna Horvath is a sophomore studying journalism and English at CAS. When she’s not a News Editor, she’s a "Gone Girl" enthusiast, a Goodreads lover, and a Barnes & Noble frequenter. You can usually find her ordering an iced mocha, telling people her name is “Bruna” not “Bruno,” or on Instagram @brunaahorvath.
Dharma Niles, Deputy News Editor
Dharma Niles is a first-year student currently studying journalism and politics at CAS, and has yet to choose between the six different minors she'd also like to pursue. You can generally find her playing NYT games, skittering around the city with a Celsius in hand or on Instagram @dharmaniles.
Maisie Zipfel, Deputy News Editor
Maisie Zipfel is a first-year double majoring in Journalism and Politics, and double minoring in Gender and Sexuality Studies and Spanish. She is a Yerba Mate enthusiast, a Taylor Swift fanatic and an anti-Greek Life turned sorority girl (Deeph or Die). When she’s not writing in the WSN basement you can find her isolated in Palladium for NYU’s Competitive Dance Team practice, obsessing over her Four-Year Plan or trying to weave in time to take a nap. You can reach her on instagram @maisiezipfel, on LinkedIn (her favorite social media platform) @MaeZipfel or preferably on Venmo @mkzipfel.
Qianshan Weng, Multimedia Editor
Qianshan Weng is a junior studying Media, Culture and Communication and Journalism. You may pronounce his name as "chi''en-shan", or, if it makes your life easier, just call him "Ben." He grew up in Shenzhen, China, and has spent the last five years or so saying that he wants to learn Cantonese. The answers to the questions "when will he finally start?" and "why is this taking him so long?" remain mysteries, even to himself. You can reach out to him at [email protected]

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