Illustration by Tom Abi Samra

Amid a Culture of Mistrust, How Do We Engage in Transparent and Intentional Reporting?

The Gazelle reflects on the diminishing trust students have in the institution and how we can continue to hold our university accountable, amplify marginalized voices, and report honestly.

Since its inception in 2014, The Gazelle has remained steadfast in our commitment to constructive discourse about our community as well as our campus’ location. In the past few months, we have published a powerful personal essay on unmet dietary needs and lack of structural answers, an exposé on how partial aid students feel mistreated and silenced on campus, and the results of a revealing survey about why undergraduate students have lost faith in the Career Development Center. We have continued to use our platform to help amplify voices that are otherwise not heard widely enough. Our geographical location and diverse community also lends to our ability to report from a non-western and a non-Eurocentric perspective.
Our work has not been without fault and we have done so imperfectly at times, but we continue to treat this aim of amplifying constructive discourse as central to our role on this campus.
Yet, on-campus reporting grows more and more difficult as the division between students and the institution grows larger.
The Gazelle has long been open about our concerns regarding the culture of transparency and accountability that pervades various departments on campus. Just over the past year, such issues have affected our own newsroom in various ways: we have been met with stony silence and obfuscation when requesting interviews or comments from campus departments, which hinders our ability to provide insightful, incisive reporting.
Beyond this, more and more students at NYU Abu Dhabi are increasingly reluctant to give The Gazelle comments that may be perceived as “critical” of various departments on campus, citing a fear of retaliation and reprisals from said departments. Beyond this publication, this phenomenon is worrisome because it implies a broader, toxic culture of growing mistrust between students and the institution.
This obstruction of transparency and open discussion inhibits our ability to report objectively and truthfully on campus issues, though we continue to improvise and uphold our journalistic integrity and report on issues pertinent and relevant to our community.
Our Senior Opinion Editor, Ibad Hasan, reflected on student sentiment that has often been communicated to him: “Our professional kind of life revolves around departments on campus. So they fear that they might not get a job, for example, or a student assistantship… [or that they’ll] lose a credible connection that they might have in the professional sphere on campus, like a potential mentor, or people that work who are students, they also feel that their relationship with the department might get damaged. But again, I'm talking about very explicit things, which happens very rarely. But it's also unsaid animosity sometimes, not replying to emails, or ghosting when they actually reach out for their services and stuff like that.”
Let us not mince our words; with as much goodwill as we can afford to extend: These actions are fundamentally at odds with the vision of the NYUAD project, which champions academic freedom and innovation, and are a disservice to the interests and well-being of the student community.
This present moment is a particularly tense one, where multiple forces have corroborated, and our space to continue reporting critically has been shrinking. There is only so much goodwill an institution can expect from its students when little has been done to address the rampant mistrust students feel. Without genuine efforts to listen to and address the concerns of its members, an institution becomes a mere façade of growth, hollowed out as it neglects its duty to foster a truly inclusive and supportive environment for all.
This is why we, at The Gazelle, were especially excited by the idea of introducing regular community listening sessions featuring various departments on campus, in collaboration with the Student Government. The previously reported session offered a glimpse of the space required to address long-standing student grievances. We urge the administration and our student government representatives to regularize such spaces for open dialogue.
Dialogue is a hollow exercise, though, one that is devoid of any meaningful impact if it is not followed up with constructive action and the remediation of issues that were raised.
It is never an easy task to be involved in a publication such as The Gazelle. We are financially independent, but we are not separate from our community; we cannot be. The Gazelle is a publication in and of the NYUAD community, and in its role of archiving, critiquing and disrupting, we attempt to make sure that our history is not lost and question the principles which will shape our future.
And part of this lies in continuing to do what we are meant to do: speaking to students on concerns about enrollment, interviewing administration on institution-wide policy changes, and reporting on community events and activities. We can only do this accurately and carefully if our community is not made to feel hesitant or afraid to speak up.
Huma Umar and Githmi Rabel are Editors-in-Chief. Sidra Dahhan and Stefan Mitikj are Managing Editors. Email them at
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