Dec

9

NYU Diaries: Lay me in the water

Written by

NYU Correspondent W. M. Akers is back, with an explication of his school’s own real estate woes, and why nobody cares.

fountainAmong the many hardships of the New York University student is a scarcity of abominations. We have no Manhattanville, no nooses, no Islamic tyrants, and while Columbia students get to moan about northward expansion like it’s the new rape of Belgium, the best NYU gives us is the partial-dismantling of a holy building on 12th Street. The dorm we’re building there will incorporate the facade of the architecturally insignificant old church, letting residents taste absolution as they step out to class. Tearing down handsome buildings to erect another gray pile is unfortunate, but not evil.

NYU simply lacks Columbia’s muscle, meaning that we are acted upon as often as we act.  Since 2003, community groups have raged against the Department of Parks and Recreation’s proposed renovation of Washington Square Park, and NYU students have grinned blithely at their indignation. This week, the city approved the Department’s plan, meaning that construction could begin as early as the new year. 

Because being a liberal in Manhattan requires opposing anything constructed since the Empire State Building, I was confused to find that the plan is strangely sound. They have removed the cruel elements of the proposal—which included fencing out the homeless and smoothing down the three concrete nubs that are the only hills below 55th Street—meaning that the construction will amount to little more than tidying up. Even the city councilman who has led the opposition to the plan has come around, saying that the compromises are unprecedented.

Remaining unchanged, unfortunately, is the scheme to renovate and relocate the fountain, which is to be pushed, like a stray end-table, 23 feet, in order to bring it into line with the arch. Even in warm months sitting in the fountain can be unpleasant–the surface is hard, the spray is unpredictable, and the spectacle of toddlers tumbling into the water distracts from homework–but no one, student or real person, seems to mind it not being in line with the arch. Moving the fountain and renovating the rest of the park will mean half the park will be blocked off and ugly for the next two to three years, forcing us to eat lunch indoors and graduate at Yankee Stadium.

The plan for the park is irritating but tired. It’s even less important than other failed controversies, like last year’s hilarious election scandal and Young Republican racism, and the administration’s ongoing refusal to release financial records. Perhaps there’s nothing worth shouting about down here, but that shouldn’t matter. If NYU wants to maintain its place as a top-tier time-wasting institution, its students need to practice silly disobedience. We need people capable of making fools of themselves and their college—is there any chance we could borrow your hunger-strikers?

Ah, and to those bothered by my byline, I’d like to briefly explain myself. My father is a screenwriter; he and I have the same name so I print as W.M. to distinguish my work from his. If that’s unacceptable please continue mocking me for it, but I would prefer you restrict your attacks to my writing, personality, or character. Thank you for reading—I’ll  be back next week with something new for you to abuse.

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29 Comments

  1. scarcity

    Haha. "A scarcity of abominations." Seems to be true, as far as I'm aware.

  2. Black Guy  

    Who the fuck does W.M. Ackers think he is?

  3. jesus  

    Among the many hardships of the New York University student is a scarcity of abominations. We have no Manhattanville, no nooses, no Islamic tyrants, and while Columbia students get to moan about northward expansion like it's the new rape of Belgium, the best NYU gives us is the partial-dismantling of a holy building on 12th Street.

    Are you fucking kidding me? Our library doesn't have a diving team. We don't have students living in the library because of financial aid shenanigans. And don't even try to tell me that the relationship between NYU and Grenwich Village is less tenuous than Columbia and Harlem. Volumes have been written as NYU has been expanding and buying up buildings right and left over the past few decades. Ask some residents or community board members how they feel about NYU before you go whining about a lack of controversies. Sure, you didn't get a militant Islamic head of state, but you also didn't have a university president bow to financial pressure and effectively make an ass of himself (pissing off said head of state). You even got Barack Obama, even though we count him as an alum.

    • I think

      One of the crucial things you are forgetting here is that for NYU, "enraged community members" equals the aging hippies who have lived there forever, and the new-money yuppies who are just moving in, most of whom, I would venture to point out, are white and in varying levels of the middle-class.

      "Enraged community" in Harlem means working-class blacks crying racism at every turn.

      That is why NYU's expansion will have the problems Columbia has to deal with.

  4. city beautiful  

    the fountain misalignment always bothered me.....severely. And concrete, humps or not, is always unacceptable. Sucks for your grad ceremony, but it needs to be done.

  5. butler

    "Our library doesn't have a diving team..." It does have a marching band sometimes, however. And don't forget the recreational sex...

  6. juanathan  

    nice article, one of the best i've read on this site in a while. a gentle word of advice, though: don't take any abuse personally (eg. last paragraph). it's around finals time and people are hitting the redbull and haterade pretty hard.

  7. good lord  

    this guy's douchbaggery increases exponentially with each post. what a jackass.

  8. Dear W. M. Akers  

    I think I love you.

  9. genuine  

    I am truly sorry that you have to graduate at Yankee Stadium.

  10. umm . . .  

    "Because being a liberal in Manhattan requires opposing anything constructed since the Empire State Building, I was confused to find that the plan is strangely sound."

    Isn't wanting things to stay the same conservative? Or maybe we make just make "liberal" mean whatever we want it to mean today.

  11. next year:  

    akers for editor of bwog!

  12. liberal/conservative

    Maybe, just maybe, we are wrong to presume that political affiliations and distinctions really boil down, reductively and simplistically, to sharp differences in the way we intrinsically perceive and respond to change.

  13. W.M.  

    yo, don't take the haters on here personally man. you are a very gifted writer and the people who trash you seem to have no perception of the sarcasm in your writing, or maybe they willfully choose to misinterpret it. also (i have no proof for this but) i think that the most spiteful bwog commenters are probably people who don't have the balls to speak up & take risks in the real world and compensate by being douchebags who're safe in their anonymity online.

    this was not a particularly fascinating topic, but was still very enjoyable because of the tone and humor of your writing. i look forward to what comes next

  14. #21

    Don't count me among the haters. If you did, you can count yourself among the misinterpreters. I was merely responding the liberal/conservative debate among the posters.

  15. i don't know  

    that strictly-for-the-haters final paragraph was a touch self-indulgent

  16. columbia and nyu!

    as long as we're "tidying up" homeless people and people of color...

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