Where did 2015 go? For NYU Stories, it was the year we hosted an impromptu student fashion show on Washington Square Park East, examined the world's largest collection of takeout coffee lids, ducked into a Broadway dressing room with a Tony-winning costume designer, cajoled our faculty into singing a Breakfast Club-inspired farewell to the graduating class, and polled New Yorkers about their pizza eating technique.

As we look forward to another 365 days of documenting weird and wonderful stuff that can only happen here at NYU, we've pulled together 15 of our favorite stories from 2015—plus one to grow on in the new year.

May your days be merry, bright, and—like ours—never typical.  



archival images of two women talking on telephone with speech bubbles

The fact is that pretty much everybody creaks, Davidson says. “In English we generally use it as an indication that we’re coming to the end of a sentence.” Then why are young women the ones being criticized for it? 



Take care of your teeth, your dentist says, because they have to last you your whole life. But the truth is that even with a few cavities they'll probably outlast you—by tens of thousands of years.  


two "Blackamoor" figurines

So how does a forward-thinking, global university like NYU respond to the discovery that the 34 Blackamoors now in its possession form the largest of any known public or private collection? How do we make sense of the industry’s endurance—and America’s role in it? “We thought that instead of simply putting them in storage, we can train students in contextualization and curation,” says Awam Amkpa, curator and NYU professor of Africana studies, of La Pietra’s collection. “We can use it to create a wider understanding of how we have seen the black body through the ages.” 



Read widely. Take walks. Learn from your friends. We asked NYU professors to reveal what they wish someone had told them when they were starting college... 


Salman Rushdie portrait and book cover

Salman Rushdie is one of the world’s most celebrated living writers, having received the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel (twice), the Crossword Book Award in India, the James Joyce award of University College Dublin, the Golden PEN Award, and so many others. He is the author of a dozen novels, including The Satanic Verses and Midnight’s Children, which won the Booker Prize in 1981. After teaching at M.I.T and Emory University, he joined NYU this fall as a distinguished writer in residence in the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.



Among a host of other services, the NYU Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic offers one-on-one sessions for transgender women and men looking for help in achieving their authentic voices. The sessions, led by Steinhardt students training alongside licensed speech-language pathologists, are organized around each client's unique goals. 


collage of archival pictures of miners and music notes

The Pulitzer jury described Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields as “a powerful oratorio for chorus and sextet evoking Pennsylvania coal-mining life around the turn of the 20th Century.” But don’t let the fustiness of the term “oratorio’ fool you—this one is less in the spirit of Handel than that of Phillip Glass, Woody Guthrie, and even Led Zeppelin.  


photo: Pope Francis waving

Pope Francis is something of a global rock star, a figure who’s garnered the attention, or at least the curiosity, of many around the world—non-Catholics, feminists, scientists—not otherwise in the habit of looking to the Vatican as a source of moral authority.  



French studies master's student Nawsheen let the NYU Stories crew follow her around on a typical (jam-packed) day—from her morning commute on the 1 train to class and work and beyond.  


collage: newsprint newspaper illustration of Ota Benga holding a chimpanzee

As inconceivable as it would be to envision a person in captivity alongside zoo monkeys in 2015, Pamela Newkirk cautions that this shameful episode isn’t so distant as it might seem. “My grandmother was alive when this happened,” she says. “She was six years old, living in upstate New York, when an African was exhibited in the Bronx Zoo.”  


performers onstage at NYU's drag competition

For some of the seven student performers, the September 17 lip-sync competition would provide a first opportunity to perform in drag, while for others it offered a chance to take stock of how much they had grown in their craft. As Judy Garlands and Whitney Houstons, statuesque beauties and femmes fatales, they showed off the hard work that goes into building a persona and the courage it takes to share one’s creation with others.


illustration of veggie silouettes filled with hamburgers

“There are great burgers made out of mushrooms and black beans, which have some of the characteristics of a meat-based food choice,” Kent Kirshenbaum says, “but they’re not tricking anyone.” 


"A Library of Congress C-1 cassette playback machine and several cassettes are pictured. The titles are Dykes Loving Dykes, How to Stay Out of the Gynecologist's Office, and Lesbian Path."

Blind people, like any readers, could hardly live on a diet of classics alone. There was a growing demand for recordings of works that—whether politically radical or sexually explicit—the Library of Congress deemed inappropriate or unworthy of recording.



Each year, a group of NYU students, alumni, and staff travel to the New York State capitol to advocate for the expansion of state financial aid. This February 10, 2015, 102 people joined in the 30th annual NYU Albany Day for face-to-face advocacy in a total of 20 meetings with legislators and staff. This video follows one NYU freshman in her quest to make her voice heard.


photo: Dennis Kroger in the basement of the Silver Center, closeup on his public safety officer's badge

“I know the building is haunted, because you can feel it,” said public safety officer Dennis Kroner as he unlocked the door to a hidden stairwell in NYU’s Brown Building. “But I’ve never seen ghosts or anything.” 


collage: Abraham Lincoln's face and black silouette of United States with red white and blue tears

Lincoln’s death was for many living in 1865 what 9/11 was for us, or the JFK assassination was a generation ago—a startling national tragedy that seared the mundane details of an otherwise ordinary day into permanent memory.