NYU in Abu Dhabi

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.

Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.