A Semester in Review

The Editorial Board reflects on the important issues reported by WSN this past semester.

WSN Editorial Board

This past semester, we’ve strived to accurately and critically cover the state of NYU. As the Editorial Board of WSN, we have a sense of responsibility to speak on issues that directly affect the student body. For the last editorial of the semester, we feel that it’s important to discuss the most important topics covered during spring 2019 that continue to influence our campus every day.

Student Health and Wellness at NYU
The 2018-2019 school year saw a string of concerns in terms of health and wellness on campus. In February, NYU’s decision to withhold information from the student body regarding its consolidation of the Graduate Student Health Insurance Plan with the Comprehensive Health Insurance caused controversy. NYU’s choice impacted 1,000 students, leading to higher copays and less coverage for all students who had used GSHIP, while NYU falsely claimed that New York State had required the consolidation. This was a failure in communication and transparency between the NYU administration and the students it serves.

In the last semester, WSN has also covered issues within the Student Health Center and the problems with NYU’s minimal funding of Counseling and Wellness Services. Students have recently spoken out about the lack of accessibility of mental health and wellness resources at NYU, which seems to derive from a lack of adequate prioritization of the issue. Many students have come forward to assert that they did not receive adequate and necessary care at the Student Health Center, citing month-long wait times, cursory responses and unprofessional counselors.

WSN would also like to recognize the tragic suicides of two students in this last school year. The students, which the NYU community lost in October and March, were both first-years.

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Food Insecurity, Aramark, Chartwells
One of the biggest discussions on campus this semester was food insecurity. The problem has existed for quite some time, but awareness of the issue comes up when it is in the national spotlight as well. As reported in a Harvard study, about half of over 30,000 undergraduate students from all over the country reported experiencing food insecurity. In addition to who has access to food, another problem on campus is who provides it.

Aramark, NYU’s food service provider, was replaced with Chartwells — a subsidiary of Compass Group — after the expiration of their contract and months of pressure from the community following several controversies, including instances of racism on campus and serving maggots to prisoners in other Aramark-supported facilities. The change to Chartwells has been met with skepticism; Compass Group, too, has connections to the prison industrial complex. As Chartwells prepares to fill Aramark’s shoes, one thing remains clear: more needs to be done to improve our community’s relationship to food, where it comes from and whom it goes to.

NYU and Sexual Harassment
This semester, prominent members of the NYU community have had credible allegations of harassment brought against them, only to have NYU fail to make a strong statement following the news. These allegations include several counts of harassment against Trustee Michael Steinhardt, for whom the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development is named. This Editorial Board, along with other students, called for the renaming of the Steinhardt school. NYU did little to condemn Steinhardt in the wake of these allegations, deferring to an unclear investigation.

Little time passed before once again, NYU missed an opportunity to take a strong stance against sexual assault when it failed to terminate Professor of German and Comparative Literature Avital Ronnell’s position at NYU after she was accused of sexual harrassment. After a semester-long suspension, NYU’s decision not to fire Ronnell directly contradicts its campus sexual harassment policy.

Attacks on the Faithful
In the last three months, there have been three vigils to commemorate the lives of those lost while worshipping. Following the attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, multiple cities in Sri Lanka and San Diego, our university and the world has been paralyzed with grief. These attacks are horrific regardless of their context, but it is particularly painful to consider that they were intentionally perpetrated in spaces of spirituality. The individuals who committed these attacks represent the worst of us and are all ideologically united in their opposition to humanity. The evils of their actions should not be ignored but it is important to remember that the response to these attacks is just as defining.

Each time terror struck, we came together. The importance of solidarity during our most difficult times cannot be overstated. As student journalists, we would like to believe our words matter, but in times like these, it often feels as though none are adequate. We’ll still stand as one, though, because if it makes a tragedy even slightly easier to weather, it is worth it.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, May 6, 2019, print edition. Email the Editorial Board at [email protected] 

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