Hamilton discusses response of intruders in NYU dorms, denies investment in private jail – Washington Square News


NYU President Andrew Hamilton answered questions about campus security, COVID-19, college finances and student life issues at a town hall on Wednesday, November 17.

The Zoom meeting was moderated by the president of the student government, Mehrin Ali. Senior managers answered questions related to their areas of expertise.

WSN has published a selection of questions asked by students and answers from administrators. Questions have been edited or paraphrased for length and clarity.

On safety and security

Hamilton was joined by campus security chief Fountain Walker to respond to security concerns, including recent bomb threats received by NYU and other U.S. universities, an intruder harassing two students at Lafayette Hall and the September shooting of a student on the NYU campus in Brooklyn.

Many students are dissatisfied with the way Campus Safety has communicated with students when there are security incidents. Is Campus Safety changing its approach?

Walker said Campus Safety uses a tiered communication approach depending on the situation and the severity of the incident. Some incidents, such as bomb threats, are beyond the control of Campus Safety and are the responsibility of the New York City Police Department.

What changes were made to security protocol after the Tandon engineering school shooting and the bomb threats?

Walker said NYU responded to the shooting at Tandon by increasing the number of security guards on and around campus and by facilitating communication between officers and university management.

In the aftermath of the shooting, NYU also became a member of the new MetroTech Public Safety Committee, a local collective aimed at making the Tandon campus neighborhood safer. Security representatives from institutions in the region meet monthly and issue policy recommendations.

There were a lot of questions about the Lafayette Hall trespassing incident that WSN reported last week. What should students do if they feel unsafe in NYU housing?

“Our officers followed protocol,” Walker said. “They did what they were supposed to do: they hired a supervisor. At one point, we engaged the NYPD, who responded as well. There’s this notion that the officers might just catch, jump, we don’t do any of that, especially if someone looks like a student.

“We all have a responsibility – faculty, staff and students – not to make their jobs even more difficult than they are,” Hamilton said. “Don’t infiltrate someone. This puts the public safety officer in a very difficult position and potentially a very prejudicial end of career position. ”

On relaxing COVID-19 restrictions

Dr Carlo Ciotoli, Executive Director of the COVID-19 Prevention and Response Team, discussed plans for the university’s health restrictions regarding classrooms, student life and student absence policies for the next semester of spring 2022.

Will there be a consistent policy for NYU events in terms of who is allowed to attend and what activities are allowed?

“Even our own number of cases on campus is increasing a bit,” Ciotoli said. “Now that said, we have started to relax some restrictions throughout the semester.”

Earlier this semester, the university began allowing college dorm students to host other NYU students as visitors. Ciotoli said other rules may soon be relaxed, including the two-hour deadline for events.

Participants were also briefed on current guidance from the New York City Department of Health on COVID-19 vaccine booster injections. A recent change do each inhabitant of the city eligible for a recall.

What should students do if they show symptoms of COVID-19, but their teacher does not offer an excused absence?

Vice-President Academic Affairs Georgina Dopico responded, encouraging students in this situation to contact the deans of their respective schools for assistance.

“The university and the deans of the schools have communicated to the faculty the importance for students of being able to stay at home if they feel ill and not having to provide a medical certificate,” said Dopico. “I don’t know if we are able to cope with all the eventualities that may cause a student to miss class, but certainly if he is feeling symptomatic he should stay home. The teachers have been informed of this.

If students are sick or need to take a mental health day, will online classes be offered next semester?

Dopico said the university must provide students absent from class with a means to follow remote work. However, she added that offering Zoom courses is not a “one size fits all” solution and that some students would benefit from alternative accommodation.

Hamilton said the university had been as “flexible as possible” with the situation of students and faculty over the past 18 months, but did not provide specific examples.

On the fight to improve affordability

Vice President of Admissions MJ Knoll-Finn highlighted NYU’s success in Encounter the full tuition needs class of 2025. She also answered questions about how the university will provide financial support to the rest of its student body.

Will NYU meet all of a student’s financial needs throughout their college career?

Knoll-Finn said the university is looking for ways to increase its financial assistance to students in need throughout their time at NYU.

WSN reported on November 15, that NYU has met the demonstrated financial need for each student in the class of 2025, and that it plans to continue to do so in future admissions cycles.

Why are transferring students not eligible to receive scholarships unless they are from a community college?

Knoll-Finn told city hall attendees that NYU’s budget prevents him from helping transfer students.

“We would love to be able to offer financial assistance to all students who come as new students to NYU,” Knoll-Finn said. “But at the moment, we don’t have the budget to be able to do it.”

The undergraduate admissions office worked with the student government to find ways to better support transfer students, according to Knoll-Finn. New initiatives planned include access programs and partnerships with community colleges.

Hamilton added that NYU has taken other steps to financially support freshmen and transfer students, such as expanding low-cost accommodation options, food insecurity programs and accessibility measures. manuals.

Knoll-Finn announced that NYU financial grants have increased 60% since 2016, and eligibility for Pell grants has increased 24% among this year’s freshman class.

Columbia University has three college-wide pantries, while NYU has none. Will there be a time when NYU gets them too?

Although there are pantries in schools, student government president Ali admitted that there are none at the university level.

Hamilton welcomed the proposal for a university-wide pantry and shared resources to address food insecurity that are already available on campus, such as the Courtesy Meal program, which offers free short-term assistance to food insecure students by giving $ 75 in meal credit to any student who requests it.

On disinvestment from harmful investments

City Hall discussed NYU’s demand to end their investments in fossil fuels and private prisons amid the revival of the Divest NYU countryside.

Is NYU considering divesting itself from the fossil fuel industries and private prisons?

Hamilton said that in response to pressure to tackle climate change, NYU has withdrawn its direct investments in fossil fuels and is working to end the indirect involvement.

“Currently, the NYU endowment does not have direct investments or ownership of government securities of companies engaged in the development of fossil fuels,” Hamilton said. “We have legacy investments made many years ago in private equity. In the next few years, we will be completely retired. We have about 1% in our private funds and 1% in private equity, but these are not direct holdings. “

According to Hamilton, NYU is pulling out of these private investments, which may take years.

“It’s not something that happens overnight.” Hamilton said: “It takes several years, but in the next few years we will be completely retired.”

NYU aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040 and a 50% reduction by 2025. Hamilton said the university is meeting this sustainability goal by renovating Brittany Hall and Rubin Hall to make it some of the most energy-efficient dormitories in the country, while expanding the same objective to its developments at 181 Mercer and 370 Jay Street.

Do you think you could further clarify NYU’s relationship with private prisons?

Hamilton said NYU has no investment in private prisons.

“We have no interest and there is no commitment to invest in private prisons.” Hamilton said.

Sunrise NYU, a leading student group that advocates that the university divest itself of its endowment of private prisons and the fossil fuel industries, has claims that NYU has investments in private prisons, but has not provided evidence. Members of the organization did not immediately respond to WSN’s requests for clarification.

Hamilton referred to NYU’s Prison Education Program, which offers free college classes to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students at Wallkill Correctional Center. The program has been suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions, but Hamilton is excited to relaunch it.

[Read more: WSN previously published “The Wallkill Journal,” a column featuring reporting from inmates of the facility.]

“I can’t wait to return to Wallkill to participate in a graduation ceremony for the incarcerated men who have achieved incredible success in graduating from their associate degree program,” Hamilton said.

Contact Gabriel Hawthorne and Maria Freyre at [email protected]


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