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

‘It’s better than nothing’: NYU partially reopens Kimmel stairs

The university reopened a section of the Kimmel stairs this week, five months after closing it due to heightened protest activity near campus.
Matt Petres
The Grand Staircase in the Kimmel Center for University Life on March 26, 2024. (Matt Petres for WSN)

NYU has reopened a section of the Kimmel Center for University Life’s Grand Staircase, according to a Tuesday email to the university community from executive vice president Martin Dorph. The memo was the first universitywide statement regarding the staircase since its closure in October, a move that has sparked criticism among the student body. 

“We know there are a variety of views about the use of the steps,” Dorph wrote in the memo. “We will be gathering a full range of views with the goal of creating a new look and feel that helps maximize that space for community use.”

Dorph also said that the full reopening of the stairs will still take several weeks due to the addition of handrails and relocation of the building’s turnstiles — a new construction project which began over spring break. The handrails are expected to be completed in May, while the turnstiles will be finished over the summer. The administration said the changes will address concerns such as the stairs’ “steepness,” among other issues regarding accessibility and security.

“It doesn’t look amazing, but it’s better than nothing,” Tandon junior Saadat Rafin said. “It does make the whole way coming up a little bit easier.”  

The university closed the stairs five days after the start of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7, citing “the level of protest activity” near campus. In the memo, Dorph also said that Campus Safety officers are requiring students to show their NYU ID at the doors of the building.

“It definitely does make a difference in terms of safety,” Liberal Studies sophomore Laila Rehman said. “For the student experience, it doesn’t really make a difference having to tap in your ID to go up the main staircase, just because you have to tap in your IDs to get to the elevators and to the other staircase. I don’t think it makes that big of a difference, so I would say it’s worth it.” 

NYU’s Student Government Assembly passed a resolution on March 7 requesting that the university reopen the stairs. The proposal stated that the staircase helps “bring a sense of community” to students and that alternatives are “overcrowded” and pose a “fire hazard and safety issue.” 

SGA chair Ryan Carney told WSN that he consistently brought up concerns about the stairs in meetings with administration, and feels that uses for the stairs will continue to be an ongoing conversation between students and the administration.

“They finally had that conversation that students have been asking for for a while,” Carney said in an interview with WSN. “SGA has been advocating for this for months, and I think they finally listened to student voices.” 

When asked for comment, a university spokesperson referred WSN to Dorph’s memo. 

Contact Aashna Miharia and Dharma Niles at [email protected]

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About the Contributors
Aashna Miharia
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.
Dharma Niles
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.
Matt Petres
Matt Petres, Photo Editor
Matt Petres is a first-year studying Economics. He is from Chicago, Illinois and likes to bike and kayak. You can contact him on Instagram @matt.petres

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