Graphic by Megan Eloise/The Gazelle
At least 2,200 copies of a 68-page document titled Disorientation Guide For the Corporate University were distributed around the NYU New York campus during Welcome Week, spreading criticism of the university among its incoming students.
Authored by a group of NYU student activists, the informal guide introduces readers to various radical groups on campus and criticisms of NYU.
The guide accused the university of homophobia, racism and colonial aims in its recent expansion, and also criticized the university for perpetuating student debt. It can be found virtually, on the NYU Disorient Wordpress page.
The authors write that the NYUNY student body is the most indebted in the United States, claiming that NYU has forgone educational values in favor of “merciless” university expansion and corporatization.
“I just liked the idea of it … I think a lot of people would be critical of the [guide] because you don’t want to be critical of the university. It’s like a loyalty question,” said NYU Abu Dhabi senior Emma Leathley.
“I don’t agree. Students can make productive criticism," she added.
The guide offers tips for students on how to get more financial aid, as well as a list of the university's Board of Trustees members who the authors assert are profiting from student debt. The guide also claims that student debt affects black U.S. American and queer students distinctively.
NYUAD is also the target of the activists’ disorientation. Said to be “built on top of a metaphorical graveyard,” the guide extensively quotes descriptions of labor abuses from foreign press organizations. Findings
from last year’s Nardello & Co. report are detailed and subsequent university promises
criticized as inadequate.
“It was really critical,” said Leathley. “Even if it wasn’t very detailed, the thrust was on point, it was something that needed to be said.”
There is also extended criticism of the culture, laws and political system of the UAE.
Beyond criticising the university for its global and local
expansion, the Disorientation Guide attacks the advertisement and “propaganda” of the Taglit-Birthright Israel organization, which offers free trips to Jewish students around the world.
Opportunities to take these trips, funded partially by the Israeli Government, are encountered more often at NYU than elsewhere, according to the guide, which accuses the organisation of hiding “the destruction of Palestine.”
The authors of the guide started an Indiegogo campaign to fund the printing of more editions. The Indiegogo profile alleges that, during Welcome Week, NYU staff confiscated the guides from students. However, both the university’s account and student anecdotes suggest that instances of confiscation were at most isolated and not directed by university administration.
The guide authors have raised 400 out of the 600 USD for their third round of printing, though the Indiegogo campaign is now closed. A comment on the page by a user account named John Sexton reads, “Keep up the good work, guys!”
Disorientation events and publications are not new at NYU; a guide has been published since at least 2008 and in 2013, NYU Disorientation was a weeklong event
It is unclear, however, how much support the guide has stoked among average students at NYU. The Dis-Orientation Collective page on Facebook has 137 likes.
Riaz Howey is copy editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.