Illustration by Mariam Diab.

Sustainable Re-Engagement: NYU Abu Dhabi’s New Summer Routine

Why make anew when you can recycle? Students having to give up their plans to stay on campus is justified as a new sustainability effort aimed at allowing NYUAD to maintain its marketing materials.

Feb 7, 2022

This article is a contribution to The Gazelle's weekly satire column.
The Global Network University. The World’s Honors College. When we all first landed on this little slice of Saadiyat Island, we had grand ideals to live up to. Changing the world, reinventing the wheel, bridging cultures together in our own mini United Nations. NYU Abu Dhabi provided a promised land of sorts to exercise our ambitions, or even just find out what they are. By year five, a university in its infancy had given rise to an impressive array of marketing, from Life Beyond Saadiyat to a video played on Etihad flights. She worked at Google and founded three nonprofits, he is India’s next top investor, they were all Rhodes Scholars — big shoes for every student to fill. It is thus a rite of passage for every incoming first-year student to be baffled their second week upon seeing that a sample of the world’s most talented students can’t even wash a load of laundry without exploding a machine.
In recent years, NYU Abu Dhabi has attempted to shift to a more sustainable mode of operation. Instead of throwing buckets of money at every single problem until it gets fixed, the university has attempted to conserve resources where it can amidst a destabilizing global climate. This means that a modus operandi of “reuse, recycle” has been set forth in our strategic blueprint.
Stukinda Heet, Class of 2024, has realized that she too is being forced to reuse parts of her life over the course of the pandemic. “It was really innovative during my freshman year when they thought ‘Why let them take thirty-two credits in nine months when they can do it in eleven?’ What a genius idea!” Taking pre-calculus for the third time in her life taught her what it means to take things slow and live a meaningful life, a lesson which she took with her into her second year.
Looking forward to her January Term, she was excited for a life that seemed to be picking up. In November, she secured a summer internship with Umbrella Corporation brushing corruption under the rug in various countries. But the intensity of her planned wrongdoing was no match for the intensity of J-Term, which prevented an online version of it from ever allowing her to maintain her planned schedule. To add insult to injury, one of her required courses for the spring semester bumped her to the class waitlist after her chance to get into anything else had already passed.
Once again, her summer fate was going to involve underground parking garage runs to D2 and sweating approximately one gallon per hour on her nightly walks. It was either that or not graduating in time. Diys Gruntle, Class of 2022, found himself in a similar predicament. The cancellation of J-Term would leave him four credits short of graduation and unable to start his job in London in mid-June.
“I’m existentially tired these days. There are so many people I have to avoid running into every day just to get my food from D2. Why do I have to suffer through even more of this?,” said Gruntle, who was looking forward to moving to a city where he could actually walk outside in May. But he, too, eventually learned to take things slow. “Living in an eternal Groundhog Day has made me a master of my own emotions, far more valuable than any experience from a class or trip. The pandemic may have made life like that, but I’d really like to tip my hat to the university for finishing that off,” he said.
Because of the value of preserving old experiences over constantly seeking new ones, and the lack of students getting these new experiences thanks to staying at NYUAD every summer, the oft-touted marketing materials at NYUAD will become part of its recycling campaign. In a decade, NYUAD will continue to tout the legendary experiences of the batches that it, as an institution with the memory of a goldfish, has all but forgotten about.
“Especially amidst a constantly shifting global landscape, it is crucial that we also recycle the institutional mentalities and mindsets of those before us,” said Uroddsofgraduatingare Slimm. As such, granting the flexibility to account for circumstances that change as rapidly as a fried egg cooks on the sidewalk in June is a nonstarter. The experiences of those students who benefitted from a vastly freer climate will continue to be told as realistic possibilities for every single student at NYUAD.
“Campus is not campus without a healthy dose of impostor syndrome,” said Dean of Students Kale Parsley. “Remember to always compare yourself to others, always assume you had the same opportunities they had, and blame yourself when a last minute decision prevents you from living up to those,” he said in his most recent message to the community. “We may not be producing Global Leaders anymore, but at least limiting access to courses prevents us from having to offer anything besides the Core Curriculum,” added Slimm.
Ethan Fulton is an Opinion Editor and Satire Columnist. Email him at
gazelle logo