The Review at The National has a feature on NYU's John Sexton and his hyper-ambitious plans for the university's new Abu Dhabi campus. It's a two-part articles, so I'm hoping the next section takes a tougher look at the university's claims about its mission. I had a wonderful time getting my masters at the Hagop Kevorkian Center at NYU, but I became very skeptical of the administration--their treatment of any student demands for greater participation in the university's running was always condescending and quite ruthless. The articles mentions the way Sexton crushed the grad student union; it also mentions a sit-in that took place when I was there--what it doesn't say is that the students were forcefully evicted by police, expelled from university housing, and charged with vandalism in disciplinary hearings. The sit-in's main demand was greater accountability of the university's finance and greater student participation in its decisions. The Review piece raises interesting questions about how well Western academic standards will withstand the pressures of Gulf politics and religious sensitivities; it should also ask how well Western academic standards have withheld the pressures of the modern American market. NYU is a good university but almost more than that, at this point, it's an efficient conglomerate.
The Arabist is published and edited by Issandr El Amrani, a writer and analyst based in Cairo, with contributions by friends.
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