You may be able to vote in NYU Local’s online poll, but the actual no-confidence vote on John Sexton’s presidency is closed to students. With nothing to do but sit and watch, it’s easy to imagine this week’s proceedings as the plot to a strange B-movie, or to forget the vote altogether. After all, how does an administrative feud really affect the student body?
The outcome of the no-confidence vote could have a serious impact on student debt.
Much of John Sexton’s vision for NYU hinges on expansionist ideals—the Global Network University, the 2031 Plan, the degree-granting portal campuses all seek to build the university outward. Which is great, if you ask Sexton. Less so, according to his opponents.
Though NYU has yet to release any business plan for its 2031 plan, estimates price the project at somewhere between $5 billion and $6 billion. Resolutions from the Stern School of Business and the economics department cite concerns that students and faculty will ultimately be the ones paying for the developments:
We are concerned that these large costs will be paid for by some combination of higher tuition rates, a larger student body, lower teacher-student ratios, fewer tenure-eligible faculty, reductions in real faculty salaries over time, and smaller benefits.
NYU students are no strangers to tuition hikes; tuition grows more expensive nearly every year. Yet many believe that NYU—a world leader in student debt—owes its students an affordable education more than it does an expanded campus.
“These buildings aren’t going to help students facing crushing debts after they graduate,” NYU Professor Andrew Ross said of 2031’s planned expansion in Greenwich Village. Ross is an outspoken critic of current student loan policies, likening the system of student debt to indentured servitude.
“I can no longer fulfill my classroom duties without wondering if the ultimate price, for many of my students, is a form of indenture,” Ross wrote in a Daily Beast article titled “Are Student Loans Immoral?” last September.
Other professors object to the diversion of funds from students to high-ranking administrators.
“We’re seeing these enormous salaries for administrators coming in at a school where we all have students with huge debt. It seemed like there was something out of whack,” political science professor Christine Harrington told the Village Voice.
And while NYU has attempted to justify its more-than-generous parting gift to administrator Jack Lew, many have noted the discrepancy between the current administration’s treatment of some higher-ups, and its treatment of students and non-tenured faculty.