March 26, 2018                                                        RE: Representing Student Interests

                                                         

To President Andrew Hamilton and the Board of Trustees:

In June of 2016, the Board of Trustees rejected a divestment resolution in a closed-door meeting without public notes or transcripts, despite the approval of over 80% of the University Senate. Since the Fall of 2016, student groups including the NYU Student Labor Action Movement and the Student Senators Council have demanded that student trustees gain seats on the NYU Board, which we feel would allow student interests to be better represented. These demands were met repeatedly with bureaucratic roadblocks and ambiguous, unfounded skepticism of students’ capacity to serve in such a position. This skepticism was highlighted by President Hamilton’s remark that having student trustees would be a conflict of interest, when the board currently has large conflicts of interests, including ties to student debt and fossil fuel companies. For example, NYU Divest has investigated Board conflicts and discovered at least 10 Trustees with ties to fossil fuel companies, which compromises their ability to determine if fossil fuel investments are prudent or moral. The administration has refused to meaningfully address these concerning problems or facilitate further conversation between Divest and the Board.

At a meeting between current trustees and NYU students, which took place on February 5th, 2018, various trustees expressed they had not heard of the initiatives to elect student trustees. It seemed clear that the Board did not discuss the proposal, despite a year of public campaigning and repeated requests for dialogue with the Board on this issue. Many trustees expressed the desire to open channels of communication with students.

Given the student body’s interest in a more transparent, accountable, and accessible Board, and the desire by many Board members to have enhanced communication with students and the general NYU community, we submit the following demands. These demands reflect issues that are of utmost importance to many in the NYU Community and we believe the Board is entitled to know about these concerns.

1. We demand a transparent Board that serves student interests and the public interest. This includes:

2. We demand that NYU’s Board stop burdening its students and its planetary community with the current and future effects of climate change. This means:

3. We demand a Board that is accessible to the students it purports to serve, and stays informed on and responsive to the concerns of our Community. This means:

We expect that the Administration immediately email deliver this letter to all Trustees.  

We are heartened by the prospect of more thoughtful and open communication and participation between NYU Students and the Board of Trustees.

Please reach us at nyudivest@gmail.com and nyuslam@gmail.com.

Sincerely,

NYU SLAM and NYU Divest for Climate Justice