Graphic by Megan Eloise/The Gazelle
The beginning of the academic year brought over three hundred freshman, the first visit for many seniors to the new Saadiyat campus and an unfortunate level of hysteria surrounding the implementation of budget cuts. Though I may be far away as a recent graduate, I am still close enough to the NYU Abu Dhabi community to hear the myriad complaints and a handful of far-fetched doomsday scenarios surrounding the recent budget cuts.
As someone who has experienced severe budget cuts during my high school education in the U.S., I remain unconvinced that the modest changes to university programs warrant the extreme reaction I am hearing. While I was a junior in high school in Ohio, my public school district of 21,000 students opted to cut all extracurricular activities as a response to budget woes. That was painful and worthy of hysteria.
Though concerns about dining remain serious if some students are actually unable to meet dietary needs, other complaints seem based on unrealistic expectations about what a university should reasonably provide. You can imagine my surprise when I walked into the gym for the first time at Yale University and had to wait for a treadmill — it was 6 p.m. on a Wednesday and all of the treadmills were full. I was even more surprised when I was asked to pay for the fitness classes on offer.
But to me, the complaints about the budget at NYUAD reflect a much more serious issue: the mismatch between aspects of NYUAD that make it a unique and worthy experience and the aspects where some students choose to put their focus.
If you came to NYUAD for the potential of free horseback riding, you may want to reassess the purpose of NYUAD and a university education. If on the other hand, you came to NYUAD to engage with global ideas from a perspective not solely grounded in the western corpus of works with students and faculty from around the globe, then the budget cuts do not affect your experience.
The elements of NYUAD that benefit students the most and that students will cherish later in life remain unaffected by recent cuts. And because those aspects — the incredible diversity, the excellent faculty and innovative curriculum — live on, so too does the NYUAD experience.
While I encourage students to relish the opportunities provided, I am not suggesting total complacency in addressing concerns about spending and changes at NYUAD. I am, however, suggesting that students should consider whether something is worth cherishing and remembering in the future before complaining about the lack of it in the present.