NYU Cheaper for You?

WTF Is Going On? | Remington Parker | April 28, 2016

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So, can NYU really be made cheaper for you? Well, not if none of us ever even ask for it to be made so.

Last week we all received—and maybe automatically deleted—the email from Ellen Shall (AKA the Senior Presidential Fellow and Chair of the Affordability Steering Committee) that invited NYU students to join the “How Might We…” session on how NYU might lower the cost of graduation. Sounds great right? We all want to graduate with less debt, right?

Well, I guess it didn’t sound good enough for students to actually show up to the event.

As the “How Might We…” event began, stragglers slowly trickled in, and eventually filled about three out of the six or so set up, round tables. The turnout was—to say the least—pathetic. Of the 20-ish guests, it appeared the majority of the attendees were NYU employees. Only about three were undergraduate students—including one Washington Square News writer, who was only there to observe.

However, before commencing the quasi-think tank, Ellen Shall thought it fit to confront the fact the Washington Square News had published an unflattering article that claimed the Affordability Steering Committee’s outreach concerning the events was not up to par, and this was the reason the events’ turnouts were rather lackluster. Quite honestly, the moment was rather strange and awkward, as Shall disputed the claim directly in front of a Washington Square News writer.

However, what I found even more odd was the claim itself. I myself was one case of a student who responded to the email—to the committee’s outreach—by deciding to attend the event partially out of curiosity, partially to inform myself, and partially to share my own ideas.

So was it really possible that the few other undergrads present and myself were the only one’s who saw this email? Or who didn’t dismiss it as junk mail?

Well, it seems pretty unlikely. Actually, it seems completely impossible. Given the fact that I ran into four friends on my way to the event, and all four said they had known about it, and wanted to get food instead, it seemed there was a different issue at hand: a lack of action on the part of the student.

I don’t know how to say this, but NYU will never change if we students don’t ask it to change. It is much easier for an institution to raise its price than to cut its costs. And although cutting costs is a painful, and often slow process that current students may not even be able to directly benefit from—seeing as most students have already taken the loans, accepted the debt—cost cuts, and thus price cuts are something students need to fight for now, in order to protect the students of tomorrow.

Furthermore, if students do not involve themselves in the conversation of budgeting, the first things to go are probably going to be “excessive” student amenities. All those fun NYU hosted events? Screenings? Balls? Fares? Say goodbye to those.

However, if students choose to participate in the process of cutting costs, and thus prices, the students and faculty can come to collaborate and innovate on pre-existing ideas in order to make economic changes that reflect the needs of both the student body as well as of the faculty and administrators.

Actually, this sort of romantic collaboration that I am talking about is exactly what occurred at the “How Can We…” event.

Of the relatively small number of people at the event, a surprisingly large number of viable ideas were generated on how to lower costs, increase work opportunities, and decrease time to degree:

  1. Expand online teaching modules used within the NYU School of Law to other fields in order to allow students take a year or two to study from home or perhaps take up a full-time internship
  2. Lessen restrictions on transfer credits from other universities (public and private) as well as from community college in order to cut graduation time
  3. Implement modular course or flipped course options that eliminate the division of basic intro courses (such as stats) by forming a two credit intro course for all students, and then a two credit course on the content specific application of the intro course
  4. Request an MTA discount similar to the New Jersey transit’s 25% discount to lower cost for commuter students
  5. Expand NYU bus routes to reach low cost living areas beyond the NYU dorm areas
  6. Create more three person rooming options
  7. Rent out unused NYU buildings during the school year, as well as during J-term and summer term
  8. Encourage deans to not only suggest that faculty cut course material costs, but actually reward faculty that do so
  9. Reimburse students for purchasing required books they were never once “required” to crack open
  10. Create an opt out or lower cost option to replace the mandatory freshman, undergraduate meal plans
  11. Expand common “close out” courses, as it currently impedes time to degree by at least one semester
  12. Create accelerated or “three year programs” in order to decrease time to degree
  13. Foster more work study programs
  14. Accept more AP/IB credits or create opportunities for students to earn such credits upon arrival
  15. Reduce limitations for international students to get on-campus jobs
  16. Create a module similar to Dartmouth’s D-Plan
    And that was just one session. So clearly we have ideas. But how do we make all our ideas come to fruition?

Speak up students. We may want to pay less, but NYU does not want to make less. Thus, we must use our opportunities to collaborate wisely, and express our opinions while the higher ups at NYU are still willing to listen. Since—based on what I saw—you probably missed the last “How Might We…” event, please know there is one last opportunity to go to one this April 26th. And if you truly cannot make that time, consider at least participating on the online forum, where you can voice your ideas anonymously.

I know that money can make people funny, but it is important to keep the conversation open; or else those who need to have their voices heard the most are the ones who will quickly become silenced.

Photo Courtesy of: Joe Brusky