Compared to supporting what is virtually slave
labor, you could say that the disrespect of Edgar
Allen Poe's legacy is a piffling trifle among the
transgressions of New York University.
Dr. John Sexton, the president of New York University, will retire in 2015 with benefits of roughly $800,000 a year. That should let him land softly after years of collecting a salary currently at $1.5 million a year, and a $2.5 million “length of service bonus,” according to The Wire.
Sexton deserves the money, said a university spokesman (and therefore an employee of Sexton), in part because Sexton raises about a million bucks a day for the university.
All those millions accruing to Sexton will come as little comfort to the university’s students and their parents, who don’t seem to be the primary beneficiaries of Sexton’s bucks.
This year, according to the university’s own brochure “Financial Facts,” students will need to cough up $64,067 a year, if they’re from out of town. If they’re New Yorkers who live at home and take the subway to classes each day, they can get away with a piffling $49,936 a year, says the same brochure.
So where does the money go? Some of it goes into ambitious building programs in New York, where the university likes to build its buildings tall and ugly, in sharp contrast to the relatively low-rise profile of mostly 19th Century Greenwich Village.
And some of it seems to go to ambitious building programs abroad, where the university has set up satellites, 12 of them so far, where one NYU faculty member says it’s “just about people paying an NYU New York tuition and then being shipped off to Prague where you can house and educate the kids for a fraction of the cost that it takes in New York and then NYU pockets the difference.”
Care for a little anti-semitism or
imprisonment with your education?
One of those foreign outposts helping to line Sexton’s pockets is in Abu Dhabi. Yup, the very oily Arab Emirate that also played host to a symposium that “challenged the reality of the Holocaust; a speaker called Jews ‘the enemies of all nations.’”
“I would be concerned about young people from Connecticut or from anywhere else in the country, for that matter, heading off to Abu Dhabi to get an education,” a Connecticut state legislator, Andrew Flesichmann, told a reporter from New York Magazine. Little wonder. If your son or daughter is caught while being gay in Abu Dhabi, the penalty is up to 10 years in a United Arab Emirates prison, or possibly the death penalty. It's unclear to me whether, if your child is executed in the middle of the academic year, you will still be liable for the next term's tuition.
Near slave-labor construction
Equally concerning is that the imported workers who are constructing the middle eastern NYU outpost are virtual slave laborers who get cheated, underpaid, housed in slum conditions and who also get beaten up and deported – owing substantial debts to the recruiters who brought them to Abu Dhabi – if they protest.
A report in the New York Times describes their plight, which includes getting paid half of what they were promised before they left home, working 12 hours a day, six days a week, living 15 men to a miserable hovel of a room, and having their passports confiscated by their employers, who directly or indirectly are working for NYU. That way, they can’t even get out of the country without the permission of their enslaving employers, even if they can somehow raise the air fare on their own.
Moral fiber at other universities,
but not at NYU
American universities with more moral fiber than NYU have told Abu Dhabi in effect to go jump in an oil well when approached about arrangements similar to NYU’s.
Harvard sent back a $2.5 million donation from the president of the United Arab Emirates. And the University of Connecticut cut off negotiations with Abu Dhabi for is own campus there, “in part because of its concerns about human-rights violations, as well as the realization that the country’s restrictions against Israelis and homosexuals would violate the school’s nondiscrimination clause,” said New York Magazine.
But NYU under John Sexton, has had no such qualms. Heck, even historic landmarks get no respect. Some years ago, the university decided to demolish the home of the great American poet and author Edgar Allen Poe to make way for a nondescript building, 170,000 square feet of it, for the university’s expanding law school.
"We don't need no stinkin' culture"
The neighbors protested, of course that the university was destroying a cultural artifact while uglifying the neighborhood, but hey, NYU is one university that don’t need no stinkin’ culture. It finally relented enough to agree to "preserve" the facade of the original building. Hah! The “preservation” was moved half a block from its original site, uses none of the original brickwork, and has been denounced as “a facade, literally and figuratively,” by the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.
Oh yes, and one more thing. Like Abu Dhabi, the university doesn’t seem to treat dissent kindly. To protest the destruction of the Poe House back in 2000, a speaker stood in front of the spot with over 100 Greenwich Village residents, reading Poe’s poem, "The Raven" into a hand-held microphone. Poetry on the street in front of a university building? Horrors! No wonder somebody called the cops! I wonder who? Next thing you know, in this nation of free speech, the man was arrested for reciting poetry while not having a permit to use a microphone.
Seems as if, wherever NYU builds, it’s a midnight dreary.