Dear Chair Burden and Commissioners:
Thank you for hearing the case for NYU’s growth needs. Below are the critical space needs of the NYU student population.
Art Performance Space: Over and over again we hear from students who are challenged by the inability to find appropriate spaces for art, music, and theater performances. Students pursuing the performing arts as an academic field have some dedicated spaces available to them, but even so, continue to struggle with finding practice, recital, and performance venues on or near campus. There is also a substantial number of students in other academic fields who feel passionately about participating in amateur arts and performance opportunities – and it is these students who are the most pressed for adequate space. With over fifty five recognized student organizations dedicated to the arts and performance, they must compete with each other for very limited space. These are students who have made the commitment to music, theater, film and dance performance groups in addition to their academic work in other fields.
Athletic Facility: The current main athletic facility, Coles Sports and Recreation Center, is more than 30 years old, and does not meet today’s needs. The number of students, faculty, staff, and community members who utilize Coles and Palladium exceeds over a million patrons a year! The size of Coles allows us to use it as a multi-purpose space (for large student gatherings or for emergency response) that is already being strained when pressed to meet the athletic activities it was originally designed for. Coles has served the university and the community very well during its time, but is now simply outdated.
Student Activities: This is perhaps the area that feels the most critical to those at NYU presently engaged with working with students, and student clubs and organizations. We simply do not have enough available space to meet the needs of the 400+ recognized student groups seeking locations for meetings, events, lectures, and programs. They enhance and diversify campus programming for all students, faculty and staff members, and many of these programs are also open to the community at large. In our current environment, student clubs and organizations are competing for a small pool of space resources, and this ultimately places an artificial limit on the number and type of events NYU students can participate in. The interest is there, the commitment is there, the space is lacking.
Beyond organized events for student clubs and organizations, we are unable to provide enough meeting, lounge, and “free use” space for students at large. This severely constrains the ability of students to meet in casual academic groups or other informal gatherings; there are not enough places on campus where students can engage in quiet-but-not-silent group study, organize group social gatherings, or simply have a place to relax and rest on campus between classes. Many of NYU’s students (more than 10,000 undergraduate and over 15,000 graduate and professional students) commute considerable distances to school each day; we hear very compelling stories of students who have difficulty finding friendly places to study between classes, or simply eat lunch. Our offices attempt to make every accommodation to help these students be comfortable and productive on campus; but we are at the point where current resources have been stretched absolutely as far as they are able, and we continue to see increasing demand.
Graduate Students: Of special concern is NYU’s graduate student population. While graduate students make up about half of our student body, we do not have many facilities dedicated to graduate students (in contrast to many peer institutions that typically feature a graduate student union or other specialized centers). This is truly an inequity for a group of very dedicated students who seek to be more involved members of the student body, but lack the space to fully participate.
Community Service: While about 24% of our students come to us from New York City metropolitan area, the rest come from around the country and over 130 nations around the globe. Some of our graduates will remain in New York City, contributing to the vibrancy of our city in fields ranging from finance to journalism to medicine to education. Others will go on to live and work all around the world. But all of our students, while they are at NYU, are members of the Greenwich Village and New York City communities. They are not “alien” to our local culture – rather, they inform it, participate in it, and embrace it. They live here, they spend money here, and they volunteer in service opportunities. Over 85% of NYU undergraduates will engage in some form of community service during their undergraduate career, spanning the range of activities from working in a soup kitchen, to assisting with a non-profit, in every conceivable aspect of the human condition.
Admissions: Finally, NYU is at a clear disadvantage when competing for the very best and brightest students from an admission perspective, due to current space limitations. Our peer institutions will often have double, triple, or even larger percent ratios of space for student activities outside the formal academic setting of the classroom and labs.
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