Photo by Jourdan Enriquez/The Gazelle

Temporary poster policy sparks controversy among students

Photo by Jourdan Enriquez/The Gazelle Discussions about the NYUAD policy regarding posters began at the General Assembly meeting last Sunday, April 14. ...

Apr 20, 2013

Photo by Jourdan Enriquez/The Gazelle
Discussions about the NYUAD policy regarding posters began at the General Assembly meeting last Sunday, April 14. Talks of an administrative review for posters sparked student debate.
In an effort to include the student body in developing a policy for putting up posters around campus, focus groups open to all students began on Thursday this week.
Last Sunday, Assistant Director of Student Activities Victor Lindsay explained a proposed policy to the GA. Under the proposed policy, all Student Interest Groups must send new posters to Lindsay's office for a stamp of approval. Posters that are hung up on the fourth and fifth floors of Sama Tower without permission will be removed and kept in Lindsay's office to await approval.
When asked about the approval guidelines, Lindsay said that common sense would suggest which posters are offensive and which are acceptable. He planned to move forward by working with the Student Government and hosting a discussion open to the student body about the policy.
Julie Avina, Dean of Students and Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Life, stressed that the policy would be temporary.
Following the proposal at the GA, several students expressed concerns about administrative review of the poster policy. Sophomore Olivia Bergen believed that the proposed policy would undermine both student self-governance and freedom of self-expression.
“To me, it is quite patronizing to our students, suggesting we aren't capable of maintaining a community system and need some sort of filter or censor,” she said.
While the proposed policy operates at NYUNY for certain university spaces, Bergen thought that it did not suit the NYUAD community.
“We are a very tolerant, open-minded and considerate school,” she said. “I want NYUAD to be a place where people feel free to speak their minds, are open to opposing points of view and are eager to have dialogues around differences. Isn't it one of the university's main goals to have students learn from each other, when we come from so many different backgrounds?”
NYUNY senior Grace Alden said that the policy preemptively ensures that offensive posters will not be put up.
“This policy is no shock to me. It's what they do on the Square in New York,” she said. “It means that events need to be [advertised via poster] for a little further in advance and that some folks just won't poster at all. But I don't really see that as a bad thing.”
Junior Luke Hansen agreed that there should be a review of posters, but the guidelines for review must be clear and open to the student body.
“We shouldn't have something that happens behind closed doors,” Hansen said. “I don't mind whether students or administration review the posters, but the rationale has to be clear.”
“The common sense approach makes sense until the point where, for example, the statue of David was deemed offensive,” said sophomore Sachi Leith.
Leith was referring to an incident last year when administration asked for the removal of posters featuring Michelangelo's famous nude statue. The poster addressed testicular cancer awareness and depicted David. Posters hung up by the graphic novels and animated films SIG called Strip Club also came under scrutiny.
Many students suggested that the Safe Space Policy, drafted by students, is a preferable alternative to poster review. Although students finished writing the Safe Space Policy under the Student Government led by former President Brett Bolton, it has yet to be approved by administration.
“[The proposed administrative review poster policy] obviously interacts with the Safe Space Policy proposal, which has also not yet been enacted,” said Student Government President Leah Reynolds.
The Safe Space Policy proposal, as posted on the NYUAD Student Life Facebook group, states that safe spaces are where “individuals should feel comfortable that they have complete freedom of expression.” These spaces include Campus Lounge and Common Ground on the fifth floor of Sama Tower. Under the Safe Space Policy, if a poster offends someone, he or she can bring the issue to a resident assistant, a class representative or the Student Government president. If consensus is not reached, the Dean of Students will nominate a mediator to negotiate consensus.
“I understand that the Safe Space Policy is still awaiting approval from legal before the GA votes on it,” Reynolds said. “But, I am actively seeking out administrators to get more information on this today and if necessary, to push for the policy to make it back to us.”
The Safe Space Policy's long approval process may indicate a rough transition from the previous to the current Student Government. The relationship between the Student Government and administration was put into question.
“I see it more as a lack of coordination between the outgoing and incoming governments,” said freshman Daniel Brown. Brown expressed concern that the two governments held differing views on the relationship between the student government, the university administration and self-governance.
Following the GA, Student Government and administration have been organizing student discussions to form a poster policy for NYUAD.
“We here at NYUAD have a strong relationship between student government and administration, in which the administration values the student body's input in any policy making decision,” said Student Government vice president and sophomore Corey Meyer.
“From step one, the administration and student government intended to hold open forums to discuss the policy measures on civilized terms in order to craft and recraft policy in such a way that satisfies the needs of our students,” he continued.
In response to student complaints about the proposed administrative review poster policy, Reynolds assured students that they could take part in policy development.
“The poster policy has not been enacted, and there will be a focus group formed imminently, within the next few days, to look at it before it's enacted,” Reynolds posted on the Facebook group Student Life.
Reynolds sees the process of the poster policy as an opportunity for student self-governance.
“In the specific example of the poster policy, I'm glad that students are providing the starting point and shaping the discussion and creation of a policy,” Reynolds said. “Our administrators have been great advocates for student self-governance.”
Bergen remains doubtful that another policy proposal will succeed, given the delayed approval of the Safe Space Policy.
“The Safe Space Policy has already been in limbo since last semester,” Bergen said. “I am concerned that we will not see a more student self-governing policy for half a year, or a year or never.”
Due to strong opinions about the poster policy, the student body has been more involved with Student Government concerns this week. However, student attendance at GAs remains low. At last Sunday's General Assembly, only 10 students attended, not including those on the Student Government. To be an active and voting member of the GA, students must attend at least one preceding meeting.
According to Reynolds, greater student participation is necessary for the success of such student-governing policies.
“I would like to see far more involvement in GAs form a student body that places such value on self-governance,” Reynolds said.
“Students can join us in structuring this policy, and of course, their involvement is critical to its future success,” Lindsay said.
Focus groups for the poster policy are open to the student body and began on Thursday, April 18. Approximately eight students attended, and it was noted that students with the most vocal concerns were not present. Another focus group meeting will be organized.
Joey Bui is copy editor. Email her at
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