Graphic by Nisala Saheed

And Yet We Still Complain

Our university gives us so many privileges that we've reached a point where we are almost unaware that they are privileges.

Oct 30, 2016

Buzzwords such as global leaders and multicultural — identifiers that make us proud to study at one of the best universities in the world — have become inside jokes among NYU Abu Dhabi students. Our university gives us so many privileges that we’ve reached a point where we are almost unaware that they are privileges. As these services morph into a feeling of entitlement, we start taking things for granted and minimizing their importance.
It is embedded in the natural course of things that we will reach a point when we get accustomed to and bored with our surroundings, no matter how well we are provided for. The habits built over time make it difficult for us to distinguish legitimate criticism of the services from the unfounded complaints. Still, students on social media constantly voice concerns about things they find to be unsatisfactory, including meal plans, free shuttle buses and laundry issues.
Food brings humans together, but at the same time it can be the root of all evil. At NYUAD, the list of eating options includes meals cooked to order and fast food, all of which can be purchased with our meal plan, covered by the university for a majority of the students. However, many students complain about the lack of variety in the dining hall.
“It is in the human nature to get used to things. That is why people usually do seek new things to satisfy them. Some of these things can then surface in the form of complaints,” said sophomore Firas Ashraf, former Chair of the Dining Committee.
We can’t overlook the fact that the food we get on campus is free and the portions offered are designed to satiate the needs of students. Also taking into consideration the wide range of tastes and dietary needs, we have a number of international cuisines that provide some variety.
“I think that we came to this university to evolve, not to have things served on the plate, and although we can eat three meals a day at the dining hall, we need to be mindful of the flexibility. Students can buy basics from the dining hall or Convenience Store and go cook in their room or can go eat off campus,” added Ashraf.
This year, food insecurity has been a growing problem among students in the U.S. who have to work in order to afford college. Fortunately, NYUAD students don’t have to cut corners on food to pay for books or accommodation. In fact, it’s actually quite the opposite — we have a thriving food culture spread over long tables covered with appetizing food. Food is ever-present at NYUAD. Any event worth its salt needs to be catered to attract attention.
Another oft-heard complaint is the shortage of transportation. Free shuttle buses are seen as not being flexible enough to transport students to their favorite destinations in the city at the desired time. Because of these concerns brought up this fall, the Student Government managed to supplement the pre-existing routes and adjust the shuttle timetable. However, my friends and I still resent having to pay 40 dirhams for a cab back from Yas Mall if we miss the shuttle. Expecting that there will always be free transportation instead of trying to fit the daily schedule of free rides betrays the tendency of taking things for granted.
Laundry is an arduous issue that stirs up a lot of threats, investigations and eventually, resignation over the lost favorite garment. Social media boomed this semester with impassioned complaints from students who had their clothes taken. Many posts addressed to those who can’t wash their clothes in a civil fashion caused satirical or vehement reactions accusing the owner of the clothes of negligent laundry room behavior. Students at the University of Kansas in the U.S. spend around USD 10 a week on laundry. If we can do laundry for free, maybe we should see the half-full part of the glass by appreciating the opportunity of having the laundry done at no cost in less than three hours.
“I think some NYUAD students confuse entitlement with privilege when considering their life here. Some always put themselves in the center of an issue and forget to think of the wider community we live in and the greater impact certain decisions can have,” commented Ashraf.
We are bombarded with so many free things that we have lost the sense of value for things we don’t need to pay for. Stepping out of the Saadiyat bubble and facing the real world will remind us of the amount of services we receive for free. We have to remember to pay real money when stopping by Starbucks for coffee at the mall and cherish the protein bars we can buy for 17 Campus Dirhams without taking out our wallets at the Convenience Store. Sometimes, we need some down-to-earth moments just to recall the feeling of gratitude for all the free things we are given.
Daria Zahaleanu is a staff writer. Email her at
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