Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Political Pressures and Real Estate

A Letter to the Editor in Sunday's New York Times:

In "Pomp and Altered Circumstances" (May 14), Michael J. Agovino notes that New York University is no longer the commuter school he attended 15 years ago. Most of N.Y.U.'s undergraduates now come from out of state, necessitating what Mr. Agovino calls the university's "relentless expansion," replacing historic buildings with architecturally lifeless dorms that dwarf surrounding neighborhoods and infuriate neighbors.

However, N.Y.U.'s plans to engulf more real estate may be stymied by politicians who have pledged support for the university's striking graduate teaching assistants. Graduate assistants normally teach about 75 percent of classes for the undergraduates housed in those outsize dorms, but have been on strike since November 2005 after N.Y.U. refused to negotiate a new contract with their elected union.

If Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, State Senators Thomas Duane, Eric Schneiderman and Dale Volker and other lawmakers can translate their support for the union into action, N.Y.U. may have less luck when it next applies for building permits, zoning variances, financing and other forms of public assistance.

David Schleifer
East Village
The writer is a graduate student at N.Y.U.

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