Law Students for Economic Justice (LawSEJ)


March 8, 2015

Response to Provost McLaughlin's Email Regarding Ongoing Negotiations with the Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC)

Dear Provost McLaughlin,


As NYU Law students, we were taken aback by your recent message to the NYU community regarding the negotiations with the Graduate Student Organizing Committee - UAW. We believe that in sending this message, NYU abused its considerable power and reach within the student body to present a misleading and one-sided view of a conflict that goes back to at least 2003, when NYU successfully defeated the legal recognition of a graduate student union on campus. You imply that the graduate student workers are not negotiating in good faith, and you say that NYU cannot agree to an “unreasonable settlement” that it “cannot afford”. Given what the graduate student workers are demanding as compared to the public record concerning NYU’s finances, including the $399 million revenue in excess of expenses made by NYU in the last fiscal year, we find it difficult to believe that you are unable to be far more flexible in negotiations with your own students.


The University is an employer, no doubt, but it isn’t just any employer dedicated solely to profit and the bottom line. It is also a place for academic inquiry and the free expression of ideas. This environment is tarnished and violated when the administration, taking advantage of its direct accesses to the email addresses of each and every individual affiliated with NYU, fills their inboxes with one-sided communication calling graduate students’ bargaining position “unreasonable”, “misguided” and “uncalled for”. This is not the call for debate that NYU should be providing. It is propaganda; and, even worse, it is propaganda directed towards pitting us against our fellow students. Instead of fostering divisions between graduates and undergraduates and among the different schools, we should be building one NYU community.


We agree, however, with one of your basic premises-- that the bargaining process will be influenced by the court of university public opinion, not just by closed-door negotiations with GSOC. As law students, we believe that truth comes out of a well-regulated but adversarial process, where both sides are able to present their positions and challenge the suppositions of the opposing party. Since you have presented your side of the story, the NYU community deserves to hear from GSOC, if what we’re after is truth, not mere rhetoric.


We therefore demand that the administration provide GSOC with a full opportunity to respond to your allegations and present and defend its bargaining posture to the whole NYU community via a NYU-sanctioned email that reaches every single affiliate of the University. While we believe your decision to air your grievances against our peers in public to be “unreasonable”, “misguided” and “uncalled for” in and of itself, doing so without offering students a chance to rebut your allegations is doubly unjust, and is an abuse of the unequal power over campus communications that you enjoy. Allowing GSOC equal access is the only way to level this playing field.



NYU Law Students for Economic Justice