Our NYU: October 2, 2019
A Note from President Hamilton
If there’s a piece of musical theatre that connects the NYU student community, it’s probably not Wicked or Hamilton (though I love the title of that one), or even School of Rock (in spite of the great success of our many musical alumni). It’s the NYU Reality Show. For nearly 15 years, new students have attended the Reality Show, and through humor, song, and acting have been introduced to the difficulties—and delights—of college life. It is a staple of the NYU experience.
I make a point of attending all three renditions of the show each year, and this year was no exception: in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai—all of them written, performed, and produced by students and alumni. The Shanghai production is performed interchangeably by both our Chinese and international students in English and Mandarin, symbolizing something important about the campus’ nature, location, and its inclusive character. I could not be prouder of all of those students at our portal campuses and their wonderful productions.
The power of inclusion is all around us. It is evident in a mural by the Center for Multicultural Education and Programs’ (CMEP) offices on the 8th floor of Kimmel by Jess X. Snow, a Tisch student, with accompanying text by CMEP staff member Sooah Kwak. It is palpable in the training that student club leaders are undergoing to build community and improve dispute resolution. It is conspicuous in the final exhibition of our Stonewall at 50 remembrance: nine panels from the NAMES Project Foundation’s AIDS Memorial Quilt, including one that commemorates a member of our community. It is clear in the unprecedented facility our College of Dentistry created to serve those with disabilities. It is demonstrated in the 2,400 collective hours that new students contributed prior to Welcome Week through a volunteer program. To be sure, we all know much work remains, but examples like these help inspire us to do better.
However, I know that, in spite of all that, it feels like we are swimming against the tide at times. We are living through a particularly rough period in the history of this country. Discord, intolerance, hate, extremism, partisanship, violence—it feels like Pandora’s box has been flipped open somewhere.
That makes it all the more important to ensure that we at NYU abide by our community’s values: that we listen to each other. That we don’t let disagreement devolve into disunity. That we embrace diversity—of background, of opinion, of ethnicity, of place, of ability—in all our interactions. That we honor reason and truth.
With all of this in mind, Jennie and I feel very privileged to be part of the NYU community. We hope that 2019–20 is off to a wonderful start for all of you. We look forward to seeing you at the coming year’s events and campus activities.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt, on display at Bobst until December 15, serves as a powerful reminder of the devastating impact of the pandemic.
The new mural at the Center for Multicultural Education and Programs (CMEP) at Kimmel was designed to physically represent our multicultural community and CMEP’s values. It was led by Jess X. Snow (TISCH ‘20) and painted by queer artists of color, with input by CMEP staff, including Sooah Kwak, who wrote the text.
Our professors are doing important work in understanding racial inequality. Rachel Fish, an assistant professor at Steinhardt, recently found that when Black, Latinx, and Native American children attend predominantly white schools, they are more likely to be identified with “lower-status” disability categories that exclude them from the general education classroom. When white children attend schools with more students of color, they are more likely to be identified with “higher-status” disability categories, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This suggests that educators’ racial bias and schools’ allocation of support are shaped by school composition.
The Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at NYU School of Law recently released a paper on how pro-LGBT+ companies can help advance rights in anti-LGBT+ countries. Coauthors Kenji Yoshino and David Glasgow based their research on interviews with thirty leaders and employees across five continents from three multinational organizations—EY, Dow, and Microsoft—and examined how countries can strive for a model where companies aim to influence local law and culture.
With more than 300 organizations at NYU, there is truly something for everyone. As an example, the Chinese Student Dental Association leads a variety of activities including community outreach (above), a Thanksgiving hotpot gathering, a dance workshop, and a tutorial series where upperclassman help first and second year students with dental skills.
I was thrilled to help colleagues welcome a new generation of aspiring physicians at NYU Long Island School of Medicine’s inaugural “White Coat” ceremony. It’s a rite of passage for students entering medical schools the world over. As with NYU Langone Medical School, NYU LISOM offers all students full-tuition scholarships, but adopts an innovative, accelerated three-year curriculum devoted to training primary care physicians.
One hallmark of NYU is how cleverly our students use urban environments as extended classrooms. Through a travel course and seminar with associate professor Michael Dinwiddie, NYU Gallatin students conducted independent research in Detroit earlier this year, exploring its communities and talking with business and community leaders, entrepreneurs, educators, and local artists to learn about the city’s evolution.
NYU Bronfman and Be'chol Lashon, an organization that raises awareness about the ethnic and racial diversity of the Jewish people, hosted an event to bring together Jews of color from colleges and universities in the tri-state area, to build community, learn about, and celebrate culture.
NYU is committed to serving as an engine of social mobility and providing students of all backgrounds with a pathway to success.
I was inspired by the work of NYU Shanghai students who spent their summer developing technologies for people with disabilities. Participants came up with solutions such as an expandable wheelchair cup holder, a scooter that can be driven with one hand, and a smartphone camera stand for wheelchair users (above).
Jennie and I had much to talk about while reading Tara Westover’s remarkable memoir Educated, as part of our first ever institution-wide summer reading program, NYU Reads. What struck me most was the way Westover articulated the transformative power of education. Through her studies, she met people with completely different perspectives, and was able to learn and grow from the experience. You can hear more about Westover’s journey first hand when she pays a visit to campus on October 28.