Over 300 people gathered at Washington Square Park on Tuesday to protest NYU’s expansion plan and ask for financial accountability.
Student and faculty groups from NYU, Cooper Union and the New School united with Greenwich Village neighborhood organizations demanding a stop to the constant real estate changes in the area.
“We’re asking that they not demolish Coles Sports Center until they have an adequate replacement space,” said Mark Crispin Miller, an NYU professor. “Over 3,000 people use that space. The population is already badly stressed and they need a resource like that.”
The groups are demanding that NYU release a report with a list of buildings they own, rent and control citywide. According to Miller, 39 departments at NYU passed a resolution that opposed the plans but were ignored. The NYU 2031 expansion plan is a $6 billion project that will cover1.9 million square feet (roughly two blocks) in the Village.
Support has poured in from local labor unions and elected officials who feel NYU’s plan will only add to student debt and blame the City’s administration for allowing it to continue.
“The next generation should not be burdened financially with the mindless real estate expansion by the board of directors,” said Assembly Member Deborah J. Glick. “The city was a party to it [the expansion]. It has been complicit in continuing the destruction of Greenwich Village.”
Several of the speakers compared the Village to a smaller version of Abu Dhabi or Dubai with all the changes and new luxury buildings popping up.
One of the speakers was a girl by the name “Mandy,” who went up to the microphone with a mask on and spoke about how the financial burden of attending NYU lead her to become a dominatrix and finally afford to pay her tuition and expenses.
The group STOMP! performed on behalf of the protesters halfway through the event. Meanwhile longtime residents of The Village have seen the changes throughout the year and feel that the neighborhood has lost its essence.
“NYU is the evil empire,” said Susan Goren, 61, who has lived in the neighborhood for 50 years. “Thousands of people used to come to the the park here (Washington Square) just to spend a nice time, now the biggest event in the park is orientation day for NYU. The zoning has destroyed the park and gutted it for the students. It’s NYU-ville.”