NYU should talk about gentrification

More university resources need to be directed toward educating non-New York students about the role they play in perpetuating gentrification.

Kieran commanders

File photo: The Paulson Center under construction in April 2022 (Kieran Commanduri for WSN)

With the completion of NYU’s newest building at 181 Mercer Street, talk of the role of the university in gentrification New York has recovered. This is a topic that comes up often, esp at the start of each semester with an influx of out-of-state students making their existence painfully obvious, especially around Washington Square Park. Their arrival leads to recurring stereotypes: students crowding the sidewalks, traveling in packs, or wearing bright purple shoelaces on the streets of Greenwich Village. Humorous as it may be, this vibrant presence has a significant impact on the cultural and economic environment in which NYU students reside.

NYU owns about 14 million square feet of land in about 110 buildings, which now include the Paulson Center. The university’s significant presence contributes to gentrification, or the influx of wealthier residents — in this case, students — into established urban areas. Along with that are rising rents and property values ​​— driven by renovations, such as the $1.2 billion building — and changes in the neighborhood’s character and culture. NYU’s disregard for the people and land of Greenwich Village caused the anger of the residentswith one even describing the new building as “horrible”.

While we can verbally condemn the university for building new buildings or displacing New Yorkers all we want, it’s time for NYU to do more to educate students about our place in the larger urban landscape. While the university can’t exactly demolish new buildings that have been built in local neighborhoods, NYU could at least mitigate student insensitivity by giving us adequate resources to explore and respect the city we occupy.

For starters, the university could organize educational field trips to all five boroughs to encourage students to expand their knowledge of New York beyond Manhattan and Brooklyn. This programming can be included in classes, having professors introduce students to New York City’s historical museums, institutions, and opportunities beyond those located near NYU campuses.

NYU has already taken some steps to reduce its direct impact on New York’s gentrification, including supporting urban resettlement project, which monitors and reports on gentrification trends in urban areas. However, most of its efforts when it comes to student learning tend to focus on learning spaces.

NYU prioritizes teaching “Beyond the Classroom” in all places of study, encouraging students to learn about the culture and communities of these countries. Why doesn’t the university offer a similar program for New York City itself? The first option with experiential learning students should not study abroad, but to benefit the city in which we live.

Part of the impact of the student and university presence in New York stems from our ignorance of the communities that exist outside of the NYU bubble. By learning about these communities, we can move away from thinking that New York is only for tourists and acknowledge the people who had homes here long before us, and hopefully be more mindful of how we treat their spaces.

Research can even be encouraged by incentivizing students with university discounts for small businesses located further from campus. A report by Appleseed, an economic analysis company, determined that higher education institutions such as NYU contribute to the economy and prosperity of Greenwich Village by creating jobs, business and tourism.

“For Greenwich Village merchants and businesses, Christmas comes in September, when college students return from summer break and the cash registers start ringing,” wrote William Kelly, executive director of the Village Alliance, an organization dedicated to revitalizing Greenwich Village’s businesses and communities. space — including the creation of a system of no Village Bucks Community Gift Card to support local merchants.

Students make up a large part of Greenwich Village’s economy, and where we eat and shop matters. If we continue to visit chains or corporations that displace local businesses, it will further reinforce the negativity of NYU. Instead, NYU’s commitment to encouraging students to become consumers of a wider variety of places may mitigate some of the financial damage our sprawl is causing.

Just as we need to be mindful of other landscapes when traveling in a new country, NYU needs to implement more programs or basic reminders for students — especially freshmen — about how to treat the city with respect. Simple gestures like learning to make room on the sidewalk can go a long way.

The Opinion section of WSN aims to publish ideas worthy of discussion. The opinions presented in the Opinion section are solely those of the writer.

Contact Nikola Kovacevich at the address [email protected]

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