The saga over NYU’s 2031 expansion plan continues.
We recently took a trip to City Hall to hear about the university’s expansion plan and
while most of the dissenting voices in attendance were from residents of
the Greenwich Village, it was mentioned that nearly 35 of NYU’s
departments had also opposed the plan.
Yesterday those faculty, and a few students, released an ‘open letter’ airing out their grievances to President Sexton, which calls into question some of his testimony from the hearing.
As we previously reported, the expansion plan calls for the construction of four new buildings, three of which would be constructed on land already owned by the institution, as well as additional academic facilities and housing for incoming freshmen and faculty.
These new buildings have been dubbed “the superblock” and are the main source of concern for local residents, faculty and skeptical members of the city council due to their size and aesthetic that many fear will not blend with the surrounding area.
In his testimony, President Sexton said the proposed construction was necessary in an effort for NYU to stay competitive with other universities who have large enough facilities to recruit top students from across the country.
While on the topic of the student population, council member Dan Garodnick asked President Sexton about a rumor floating around that NYU was not holding classes on Friday, and not taking full of advantage of the space it already has.
President Sexton emphatically denied the rumor and even went on to add that “there are at least 10,000 students in classes on Friday.”
Well, it looks like the faculty at NYU are calling BS on that one.
On the issue of Friday attendance the faculty writes,
“Yes, there are certainly numerous recitations and labs scheduled on Fridays, but the figure of 10,000 students represents fully one-half the NYU undergraduate student body, and nearly one-quarter of the entire NYU student population. This does not square with our own experience as NYU faculty and students nor does it accord with the database about course scheduling we have been able to compile from Albert [the university’s internal web system].”
The three-page letter also expresses concern about the impact the expansion will have on student’s education costs as well as raises questions about the academic benefit of the “the superblock” due to the 20- year length of the construction project, which according to the letter will affect the housing of nearly 40% of the faculty.
The students and faculty are calling for the President and his administration to provide a publicly accessible business plan for the expansion — during the hearing the president’s team flubbed on several detailed questions posed by the city council including its estimated cost.
We reached out to the President’s office for comment and in an emailed statement this is what they said,
“We take careful and respectful note of these faculty voices, just as we know that they must have taken note of their many faculty colleagues, deans, administrators, trustees, alums, and students who spoke in support of proposal before the City Council and the City Planning Commission, and of the fact that the proposals have earned the strong endorsement of major editorial boards (the NY Times, the NY Post, the NY Daily News, Crains, and the NY Observer), of major civic groups (including the Regional Plan Association, ABNY, and the New York City Partnership), of business groups (including the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and the Greenwich Village Chelsea Chamber of Commerce), of labor (representatives of which spoke in support of our proposal), and of the majority of New Yorkers, according to polling. These proposals emerge out of our honest, best assessment of the academic space needs of our faculty and our schools; space for classrooms, research centers, labs, and performing arts space that is necessary to meet our educational and research missions. And the proposals strike a good balance, allowing NYU to use the superblocks it owns to meet its academic space needs over the next 20 years while addressing community concerns, such as reducing the expansion of its footprint in the neighborhood and creating and making accessible open space that is not publicly accessible today. “
The city council sub committee on zoning and franchises is set to hold a meeting on this issue next Tuesday, July 17th.