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FASP criticizes university expansion at fundraiser

Neda Jebelli/WSN

Faculty, politicians, Greenwich Village residents and several students gathered at The Standard hotel Oct. 8 for a fundraiser hosted by Faculty Against the Sexton Plan.

The event was intended to raise money for FASP’s fight against NYU 2031, also known as the Sexton Plan, an expansion project with a Core Plan that would develop 1.9 million square feet on two superblocks between West Third Street and West Houston Street.

“We’ve known all along that if the faculty stood shoulder to shoulder with the organized opposition to overdevelopment in the Village it would be very difficult to stop us,” Mark Crispin Miller, a professor of Media, Culture and Communication and a FASP representative, said. “NYU is trying to crush [the Village] under its own dead weight. We’re not going to let that happen.”

Miller said the event location, the penthouse of a 21-story hotel in the Village, was not a conflict of interest for FASP.

“The Sexton plan makes this look like look like a flatiron building,” he said. “And, we don’t want to see anymore hotels go up in the Village.”

Event tickets ranged from $100 to $5,000. The money raised is going toward FASP’s public relations campaign against the plan and a lawsuit against the city and state agencies that approved it.

Miller, representatives of NYU’s Student Labor Action Movement, Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, assemblywoman Deborah Glick and former mayoral candidate Sal Albanese gave speeches during the fundraiser. CAS doctoral student and teaching assistant Alex Manowitz and author Fran Lebowitz also spoke.

During his speech, Manowitz said the 2031 plan would exacerbate the problem of student debt at NYU. He also spoke about the union rights of graduate students and research assistants.

Lebowitz said that she does not like NYU and that students are tourists.

“When NYU builds a building or buys a building, that is a place where regular people, by which I mean adults, cannot live,” Lebowitz said in a speech.

The destruction of the Village was not the only concern of the event’s attendees. Miller said there is no academic rationale to the expansion plan.

“Most of the space they propose to build is not for labs and classrooms,” Miller said. “18 percent of the space in the first 10 years is for labs and classrooms. When the whole thing is done, it’s only 40 percent. The rest is dorms, retail outlets, recreational facilities and a completely needless faculty apartment building.”

According to NYU’s Core Project Fact Sheet, when the project is finished, 53 percent of the new space will be for academic use, 17 percent for student housing, 9 percent for athletic facilities, 6 percent for faculty housing, 7 percent for community space and 5 percent for retail and parking.

NYU spokesperson John Beckman said FASP is opposed to any realistic plan to expand the university’s available space and said that the faculty group known as the University Space Priorities Working Group is weighing the space issues in full.

“New academic space is vital for NYU to maintain its academic trajectory,” Beckman said.

“The conclusions in the Working Group’s interim report are delivered calmly and dispassionately, and they speak for themselves.”

On the FASP website, they discuss the current 2031 plan and provide an alternative proposal of repurposing space in other buildings near Washington Square.

“By its own account in the 2031 plan, NYU can meet its needs for academic space up to 2021 in existing spaces within 1/4 mile of the core,” the FASP’s website reads. “The university has 715,000 square feet planned for renovation and repurposing 730 Broadway and the newly acquired Forbes Building ”

The Working Group has not released their final recommendation to the university, which is expected in December.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday Oct. 9 print edition. Kevin Burns and Billy Richling are deputy news editors. Email them at [email protected]

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4 Comments

4 Responses to “FASP criticizes university expansion at fundraiser”

  1. Judith75 on October 9th, 2013 11:32 am

    The great of NYU were done in small cramped spaces!

  2. Judith75 on October 9th, 2013 11:33 am

    It should have read the greatest accomplishments of NYU were done in small cramped spaces

  3. Mark J on October 9th, 2013 11:36 am

    As a graduate of NYU, I can attest that there are few Friday classes offered when more other Universities have Friday schedules. I’m also not sure why Universities think they need more space when online education is much more viable given today’s technology. Classroom time is important but are you telling me that in a semester that you couldn’t have at least half of the classes and lectures online? If so, that would free up a lot of space.
    This building plan is a waste of money built on increased tuition. Isn’t NYU already expensive enough?

  4. Pen_Is_Mightier on October 9th, 2013 5:11 pm

    So glad you guys covered this important benefit. Witnessing students — both undergrad and grad — standing shoulder to shoulder with concerned faculty and our Village neighbors and speaking so eloquently last night about the ongoing struggle to save our university from its tone-deaf, top-down administration was nothing short of inspirational. (Before anyone freaks out, I should add here, having attended the event, that Fran Lebowitz was totally being her vintage wry, satirical self when she referred to students as “tourists.” Moments earlier she claimed that the reason she never had to put up with college debt is that she had the good sense to never go to college! All this to say, she’s nothing if not outrageous … for better or worse.) On a more serious note, our graduating class three yrs ago left the Square with the highest total amount of loan debt in U.S. history. Tuition and living costs have now climbed to well over $60,000/yr, making our school the costliest in the entire nation, with tuition rising 5% this fall alone. These are all “firsts” any self-respecting institution of learning should desperately want to avoid. Meanwhile, we were ranked in the low 30s by U.S. News and World Reports when Sexton arrived; we’re ranked in the low 30s today, while annual tuition during Sexton’s 12-year presidency has gone up a whopping $18,000. Sound like a fair deal? On the teaching front, a growing number of contract faculty and graduate teachers are barely surviving financially. And what has our Board of Trustees’ and Pres. Sexton’s response been to the crisis? Outrageous waste of our fiscal resources and locational endowment in historic Greenwich Village (ie, NYU 2031, 82% of which in its first decade of construction is intended for NON-instructional use); global overreach at our countless abroad sites, with poor curricular oversight; obscene salaries and forgivable loans for the bloated ranks of the bureaucratic elite; vacation homes (including a beach mansion for Sexton himself); inexplicable exit
    bonuses for the likes of Jack Lew. Thus absolutely has to end — now! Is our university still for and of our students and faculty — or has it mutated into a giant leech, bleeding dry not only its surrounding community but also its student body to feed the insatiable greed of its top brass? As we, the faculty, have expressed in our 5 Votes of No Confidence in Sexton’s stewardship of our university, enough is enough.

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FASP criticizes university expansion at fundraiser