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A Response to Your Letter in Support of Minority Students at NYU Stern

By NYU Stern Undergraduate College Leadership

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To the NYU Student Senators Council,

Thank you for your letter from April 20.

At the outset, we would like to take the opportunity to unequivocally state that the leadership, faculty, administrators and staff of NYU Stern care deeply about the welfare of our students, including their sense of self and belonging within our community. Building a culture that embraces inclusion, diversity, belonging and equity, abbreviated as IDBE, and that does not tolerate discrimination has been and will remain a top priority at NYU Stern. Therefore, we were especially disheartened and saddened to read the experiences of students described in the NYU Student Senators Council letter.

Upon thoughtful and collective reflection, we have come to embrace the SSC letter as a critical moment to take stock of where we are, how far we have come and most importantly, where we want to be as a community. In doing so, it is clear that there is more work to be done to build a genuinely inclusive environment for students of all identities.

Progress Since 2016

Before we outline immediate next steps, let’s briefly assess the actions taken already in the last couple of years. Since April 2016 when NYU Stern formed its own Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force comprised of students, faculty and administrators, we have taken extensive action on specific recommendations — most of them made by students through discussions and town halls — to better foster an environment that truly thrives on open dialogue and welcomes all identities, voices and views. As a result of these efforts, progress has been made, including launching eight new undergraduate programs in support of IDBE that have engaged every student in the first-year class since 2016. We are extremely grateful to the members of our community who have contributed — and continue to contribute — to these initiatives.

Actions Over the Last Week

After receiving the SSC letter, we organized a community dialogue for April 23, which was open to all NYU Stern undergraduates and co-hosted by the Stern Undergraduate Student Council. Facilitated by NYU’s Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Diversity Initiatives Monroe France, the community dialogue was an opportunity for students to share their experiences and thoughts and an opportunity for us to listen and understand their experiences better. In the forum, there were a range of student emotions, along with varying opinions about what changes were needed and whose responsibility it was to make these changes. We were struck by the bravery of every student who not only shared their thoughts and feelings, but who also showed a commitment to our community by attending.

After analyzing the SSC recommendations and community forum comments, in consultation with NYU’s Center for Multicultural Education and Programs and the Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity and Strategic Innovation, as well as the Office of Global Spiritual Life and the Islamic Center and in conversation with NYU Stern leadership and faculty, we reiterate our strong support for each and every student and their right to feel that they are welcome, respected and supported, by committing to immediate action across three key areas: (1) Education and Transparency, (2) Support and Representation (3) Process.

Additional Actions

In addition to measures already put in place over the last two years, we will enact the following steps:

(1) Education & Transparency

  • Establish an Undergraduate College Advisory Board on IDBE and invite student leader representatives from, but not limited to, International Student Association, Islamic Finance Group, Pride Corp, Supporting Excellence & Advocating Diversity, Undergraduate Latin American Business Association and Undergraduate Stern Women in Business to participate, provide feedback to and update the Undergraduate College leadership each semester.
  • Carry the conversation that begins during the IDBE day at freshman orientation into the fall semester by adding an IDBE module/session, developed in consultation with CMEP, Global Inclusion and the Office of Global Spiritual Life to our existing mandatory Cohort Leadership Program to ensure the orientation program is meeting its IDBE goals.
  • Consult with CMEP, Global Inclusion and the Office of Global Spiritual Life to examine ways to incorporate a more explicit focus on issues of race, identity and social justice into the current review of the four-course Social Impact core curriculum, which is currently required of all undergraduates and supports our students in understanding larger issues of business and society.
  • Introduce Faith Zone Ally trainings for students, faculty and administrators in partnership with the Office of Global Spiritual Life.
  • Continue to educate our faculty about IDBE issues through forums, workshops and toolkits.
  • Host forums on the topic of IDBE open to all students, faculty and administrators each semester.

(2) Support & Representation

  • Partition $100,000 per year for the next three years for IDBE efforts at NYU Stern.
  • Build a more inclusive club community by including IDBE discussions (such as discussions of unconscious bias) as a standing item on weekly club meeting agendas, examining and adjusting club membership processes that promote exclusivity and educating student leaders on unconscious bias.
  • Include more diverse speakers across key programs and highlight accomplishments of diverse community members.

(3) Process

  • Communicate our Code of Conduct policies on Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment clearly and promote extensively to all students, faculty and administrators and ensure that they know the process for reporting bias.
  • Work with Dean Raghu Sundaram, Vice Dean of Faculty Elizabeth Morrison and the rest of Stern leadership on other potential process changes that could facilitate better reporting, data collection and monitoring of IDBE.

Longer Term

This letter is also on behalf of, and in consultation with, Dean Raghu Sundaram, Vice Dean Elizabeth Morrison and the entire NYU Stern Leadership Team. Without a doubt, we want an atmosphere in which students feel comfortable and supported. To achieve this goal effectively requires a holistic approach and we are therefore discussing with all NYU Stern leadership additional reporting structures and monitoring systems. We will share more information on these efforts after thoughtful consideration and with input from parties across NYU and Stern. While NYU is fortunate to be in and of one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, we are not untouched by the divisive challenges currently facing the US and other countries around the world. We have more to do but believe that we have identified steps such as the UC Advisory Board, that will keep this dialogue as a top priority. We also look forward to receiving school-level information from the [email protected] assessment and to using the data we receive to further inform our priorities and processes moving forward. We believe that we can and should be leaders on IDBE and know that continued progress on these efforts is the only path forward.

Sincerely,

NYU Stern Undergraduate College Leadership

Geeta Menon, Dean of the Undergraduate College

Rohit Deo, Vice Dean

Ashish Bhatia, Assistant Dean

Tiffany Boselli, Assistant Dean

Erin Potter, Executive Director

Diann Witt, Assistant Dean

 

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, April 30 print edition. Email the Editorial Board at [email protected]

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