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N.Y.U. Crisis in Abu Dhabi Stretches to Wall Street

LucieTheLakieLucieTheLakie 3895 replies163 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,058 Senior Member
I posted a link to the original (May 18) New York Times story ("Workers at N.Y.U.’s Abu Dhabi Site Faced Harsh Conditions") on the NYU forum, but not a single person has commented on it (and apparently it's only gotten 44 views). I guess prospective students and families don't really care (?).

I'm posting the link to this follow-up from Andrew Ross Sorkin because I think it's worth discussing as so many CCers seem completely enamored of NYU and indifferent to the staggering debt so many of their students carry. And also because I was delighted to see that one of my favorite English professors at Penn from back in the day (denied tenure naturally!), Mark Crispin Miller, is one of the NYU faculty members speaking out against the current administration and their highly questionable priorities. Go, Prof. Miller!

From Sorkin's reporting:
Mr. Sexton (the university's president) might have been trying to create distance between N.Y.U. and the contractor, but it is a red herring: The general contractor that helped oversee the construction of the campus isn’t some fly-by-night firm outside N.Y.U.’s purview. Quite the opposite. The contractor is run by a trustee of N.Y.U.’s board: Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, the chief executive of the Mubadala Development Company.

http://nyti.ms/1gwhAac

And here's a link to the original story: http://nyti.ms/1gXQSCd

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Replies to: N.Y.U. Crisis in Abu Dhabi Stretches to Wall Street

  • arabrabarabrab 5884 replies77 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,961 Senior Member
    Given my general dislike of NYU (and particularly their FA practices) I'm not surprised.
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  • International95International95 1588 replies24 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,612 Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    This is a problem that stretches throughout the UAE. Why should one be surprised that workers who worked at the NYU campus in Abu Dhabi would be treated any better, despite initial claims? This is, really, no different than how workers in China who produce Apple devices were underpaid and overworked (and most probably still are). Yet, even with sharp criticism, demand for Apple products was still high, as is the demand for seats at NYU Abu Dhabi (where financial aid is great, btw).
    edited May 2014
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  • LucieTheLakieLucieTheLakie 3895 replies163 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,058 Senior Member
    @International95, how would you define "great" with regard to financial aid? Is it easier for the average applicant to get FA at the Abu Dhabi campus than at the Manhattan one?
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  • International95International95 1588 replies24 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,612 Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    It's much easier to get aid at NYU Shanghai and Abu Dhabi. My friend's EFC at Macalester and Vassar was $21k. She is paying nothing at Shanghai. That's anecdotal yes but it applies to all students because these schools are funded by other parties, not by NYU New York's endowment. I would say that Abu Dhabi is probably more generous than Shanghai. The oil money is dirty but it's good for financial aid.
    edited May 2014
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  • wis75wis75 13852 replies62 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 13,914 Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    Most of us don't care at all about NYU- off the radar. I don't understand why people would go out of country to attend a school just because it has a name. It can't be the same- faculty, campus, peers. Just another college doing what it chooses and of no consequence to the rest of us. Of local interest to New Yorkers perhaps.
    edited May 2014
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  • JHSJHS 18283 replies70 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 18,353 Senior Member
    Give me a break. NYU is a huge private university that attracts lots of students -- in large part because it is in the middle of one of the coolest neighborhoods in one of the most vibrant cities on Earth -- admits lots of them, and generally offers them inadequate aid. (But not always.) It draws students from all over the country. It has some real areas of excellence in its faculty (professors like to live and work in one of the coolest neighborhoods in one of the most vibrant cities on Earth, too). Its undergraduate business school is reasonably well regarded (as undergraduate business schools go), and its undergraduate performing arts conservatory is probably tops in the nation on average.

    I have known John Sexton peripherally for over 30 years, and admired him enormously, although I understand he has been a controversial president for the university.

    Anyway, lots of people care about and pay attention to NYU. Its satellites in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai in particular have attracted a lot of interest.
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  • LucieTheLakieLucieTheLakie 3895 replies163 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,058 Senior Member
    So, @JHS, what's your take on this latest scandal? Is it overblown in your opinion, or has NYU gone too far with the Abu Dhabi venture?

    My son has a lot of friends and classmates who've headed to NYU for their theater and film programs. But they're all full-pay and their parents can afford it. They're not those poor kids who take on enormous debt to fund an education in the "middle of one of the coolest neighborhoods in one of the most vibrant cities on Earth." And, as I said in my OP, one of my all-time favorite profs is a professor there now, so I'm well they have some outstanding academic offerings.

    Most colleges and universities do things that make me somewhat uncomfortable and even conflicted, but I'm a realist at heart. Some of these recent stories being reported about NYU, however, are pretty alarming.
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  • msteemstee 3081 replies55 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,136 Senior Member
    I'm not a fan of NYU either. No particular reason, just not my cup of tea. I had no idea about this. I hate this. American companies/schools can and should do better than this when they hire people in other countries. They really shouldn't be able to blame their subcontractors for everything once they know what is going on. They can and should do more to help. Or at least, show lots of evidence of trying to do so! What NYU has done about this situation seems like very little, at least it does based on this article. Sadly, NYU is not the only institution that is not stepping up to the plate to help with abysmal conditions for workers in other countries.

    I knew a girl who went to NYU Abu Dhabi for a year, full scholarship. I haven't kept in touch, though with the family. I think she was planning to transfer to another school. I don't know that she knew anything about this -- I would assume no. I guess that is neither here nor there. I know a couple of kids at NYU in NYC, and they love it there. I'm pretty sure they have no idea what is going with the treatment of workers in Abu Dhabi.
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  • LucieTheLakieLucieTheLakie 3895 replies163 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,058 Senior Member
    I know a couple of kids at NYU in NYC, and they love it there. I'm pretty sure they have no idea what is going with the treatment of workers in Abu Dhabi.

    I gather these kids don't read the Times or the student paper?
    http://www.nyunews.com/2014/05/21/coalition/
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  • Gator88NEGator88NE 6396 replies195 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,591 Senior Member
    ^^^ That would describe most kids at college. :)
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  • JHSJHS 18283 replies70 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 18,353 Senior Member
    1. I am not surprised at the trend of US universities opening satellites in attractive, educationally underserved foreign countries. And I am not surprised that NYU is being aggressive here. After all, it has less to worry about diluting its brand than Harvard or Yale (and Yale is doing it in Singapore). Who knows whether it will ultimately work, though, or get overtaken by MOOCs, or whatever?

    2. There's nothing wrong with the Times calling out NYU on falling short on commitments it undertook. But at least it looks like NYU made some commitments, and some efforts towards meeting them. The article didn't purport to survey everyone who worked on the project, it just highlighted some obvious problems it found. We have no idea whether that was typical of the workers or one rogue subcontractor on 1% of the project.

    3. I wonder what conditions were like in the 1920s -1930s for the workers who built the main part of the campuses for Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Chicago, Columbia . . . . I strongly doubt that any of those impressive, unreplicatable buildings were built by men getting paid overtime if they worked more than 40 hours (including breaks), having access to recreational facilities, and living with some degree of privacy and dignity. There's quite a lot of blood on many of our treasured monuments.

    That's not to justify what is happening at NYU Abu Dhabi -- we don't build things like that now. It's just an observation that it's awfully easy to admire the residue of horrendous exploitation when you don't have to witness it.

    4. NYU seems to have the most radicalized student culture anywhere, or at least some significant part of NYU. They are constantly agitating about things, not just this, but this and dozens of other horribles, all at the same time. A few years ago there was a prolonged occupation of a number of buildings -- the alumni of that effort were some of the organizers of Occupy Wall Street the next year -- and they had something like 34 non-negotiable demands. My daughter observed at the time "If you can't get your non-negotiable demands down to single digits, you have no business occupying anything." And she's a true-blue left-liberal. She was stunned at how jejune and unrealistic the NYU protesters were (including a very close high school friend).
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  • LucieTheLakieLucieTheLakie 3895 replies163 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,058 Senior Member
    Thanks, @JHS‌. Appreciate your insights.
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