Illustration by Shenuka Corea

Whose Campus Is It anyway?

How much longer before NYUAD becomes a hotel instead of a campus?

Unless you have been suffering from the most recent Saadiyat flu and haven’t left your room all week, you will have noticed that the NYU Abu Dhabi campus is once again under dramatic construction. Lights, pillars and arches are sprouting up everywhere. This one must be a biggie.
This week’s campus takeover is brought to you by the Ideas Festival. Its scale and proximity to the Special Olympics raise numerous questions about campus spaces and to whom they belong as well as the kinds of guests visiting our campus.
After inviting Tony Blair during J-term and David Cameron this weekend, does this mean we have officially exhausted our British Prime Minister quota and will have to go without one at graduation this May? Why don’t we bring more U.S. presidents to campus? It has already been four years since Bill Clinton visited, so why are we sticking to the Brits? Former U.S. President George Bush would be a versatile guest. Not only could he give questionable speeches on peace in the Middle East, he could also lead some killer painting workshops.
Throughout the 2017-18 academic year, NYUAD has hosted multiple major events which, while being a huge asset to students’ social media cred, have limited their access to facilities.
The football field was off limits when football legend Ronaldo was prancing around on it, the consoles in the Baraha were occupied by officers from the World Police Games and the outside dining area was overrun by felons — I mean felines.
There has been considerable chatter among faculty about an email commonly referred to as the, “Can we have class outside?” memo. As the number of events, workshops, conferences, forums, conventions, fairs and summits — of leaders local, global or galactic — grows, the need to start hosting these events during the week does as well. The East and West Forums, now only faintly remembered as student spaces by members of the senior class, will not be able to support all of the upcoming events, so classrooms will have to be occupied more and more.
The memo, first sent to professors in the Philosophy department, urges faculty to hold classes in the outside spaces instead of taking up valuable square meters of classrooms. However, the central plazas are also in hot demand for awards ceremonies and concerts, the library terraces will likely be hosting exclusive barbecues, and the grass on the highline will likely be occupied by goats. The memo suggests the rocky areas behind D1 and D2 as places which students might not have to compete for, or perhaps the amphitheater which most seniors found out about during their class photo last week. Perhaps administration has forgotten about the amphitheater altogether, so that might also be off the table soon.
“What’s next? Are we going to have to Skype in to classes from our dorm rooms?” asked Faye K’Name, Class of 2020.
Of course, there would be little point in housing students who are Skyping in to class on campus. Especially, when taking into consideration the wasted accommodation that could be given to invited guests.
We took these concerns to some senior university administration. They suggested a teleconference to showcase the viability of the Skype solution they were considering.
“We look at it as the next step in making the Global Network University truly global. We currently have students from over 100 countries, but campuses in only 12. By connecting the students from their homes, we can ensure that the global education and leadership they gain is applied locally from the get-go. By taking advantage of the newest technologies, this education would truly be revolutionary.”
They added that Skyping into class would eliminate the time it takes to walk to and from class, therefore increasing the time students can spend writing that they are global leaders on LinkedIn.
Although it sounded great when put this way, we inquired as to how this would be different from giving students access to Khan Academy and transforming campus into a convention center. The answer was silence, followed by, “Khhr, khhr, we’re driving through a tunnel, khhr.”
The obstacle of secure Wi-Fi connections still remains, it seems. Perhaps, for the foreseeable future, the university will remain geographically grounded.
Aron Braunsteiner is a satire columnist. Email him at feedback@thegazelle.org.
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